Love of Magic Leads to Unique Local Business0
The Halloween Shop, The Timid Rabbit Magic and Masquerade Shop, and Phobia House are owned and operated by the exceptionally talented Antony Gerard and family.
Born in the Netherlands, Gerard's venture to the United States was what you might call on "thin ice." Traveling here by ship with his parents, they ended up having to be rescued and that is just one of his 24 near-death experiences that he shares about his life.
Gerard is a world-renowned lecturer on the subject of magic, an author of 32 books-28 of which are on magic-and an individual who has a passion for living on the edge with his love of scuba diving with sharks and rock climbing. Also passionate about the subject of paleontology, he has a love for sculpting, especially masks.
Gerard set out studying marine biology at Ferris State University. Again a twist of fate brought him to change his life's direction after he was involved in a near-fatal car accident on the way to a magic show that was helping supplement his income during school. Through years of painful physical rehabilitation he realized that his hobby of magic could be his profession.
Gerard's first Timid Rabbit store was opened in 1974 in Gaylord followed by a second in Petoskey. Looking for a third location in 1979 and headed towards Lansing, Gerard stumbled across his finest gem; Kalamazoo. Soon after he closed all of his other stores and began calling this home.
Raising two sons here, he describes Kalamazoo as, "a place with simply the best demographics! I really like the people who live here."
Open year-round, the masquerade store is host to 11,000 costumes, many of which are used in theatrical productions along with more than 5,000 props, some of which are shipped around the world. Gerard also adds to his credits items used on the show "The Big Bang Theory" and Cartoon Network productions.
When asked some of his favorite costumes, Gerard responded, "definitely Wild Bill Hancock and Doc Holiday.
"Our shop is an experience, we're open year-round and, although much of our business is done during the Halloween season, we do very little in character costumes from TV or movies, rather we specialize in time period pieces. If he had to venture an educated guess as to the number one costume this year, it would be any character from the movie 'Frozen.'"
Gerard explained that entering his shop can be overwhelming, but between his knowledgeable family staff-including the children that have been in the store since they were youngsters-they can guide and cloak you in a spectacular outfit so that when you go to a party you won't see yourself coming and going.
Gerard added that a printed version of his life story would probably be placed in the fiction section of a library since it seems so unbelievable-almost magical from the start being delivered by an Indonesian prince to owning the Phobia House which is listed on hauntworld.com as one of the scariest houses in Michigan. The attraction is managed by his sons.
Challenge him to a game of "name something Tony doesn't have in the store," and you'll surely lose, but have a great time exploring the possibilities of this magical shop called The Timid Rabbit.