Easter pets

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Cute and cuddly is in for Easter.
Live, fluffy, white bunnies are selling out across Northeast Mississippi. So are baby chicks with orange, pink and blue feathers.
And don’t forget about the pint-size yellow ducklings, with their little webbed feet.
While some people may fill Easter baskets with chocolate rabbits and marshmallow Peeps, local retailers report brisk sales of live Easter pets. The prices vary depending on the animal, but most range from $2 to $12.
At Union County Feed & Seed, manager Sim Potts said the store this year sold 100 chicks in a day and a half. In Shannon, bunnies that fit in the palm of your hand are the hot item. William Spearman, owner of Agri Farm and Ranch, said rabbits this year sold out within 48 hours.
He’s turning down 10 to 15 customers per day who are looking for rabbits.
“My volume grows every year,” Spearman said. “My limiting factor is being able to acquire the animals.”
According to the National Retail Federation, American shoppers are expected to spend $13 billion on Easter this year.
NRF says the average person will spend about $118, up from $116 last year.
The biggest chunk – $37 – goes to food, followed by $19 for clothing. Expenditures for gifts and candy come in next, according to the survey.
Pets aren’t mentioned in the survey, but local co-ops and feed stores say the furry and feathered critters must be popular, if their in-store sales are any indicator.
“We had our best day of the year yesterday,” Potts said Friday at the New Albany store. He cited the combined sales of Easter and gardening supplies for spring.
At Trace Feed and Farm Supply in Tupelo, employee Elzie Johnson said he’s sold a lot of ducks and rabbits to people during the past two weeks.
Usually, the customers are parents with boys and girls ages 1 to 8.
“Sometimes, some teenagers come out,” he said.
But overall, he said bunny and duck sales are slower than last year.
“People just aren’t putting down their money like they used to,” he said.
Plus, pets require additional items, such as food and a cage.
Johnson said parents frequently buy animals and bring them back in a week after they’ve taken pictures with them.
Pet rabbits often are turned loose in yards.
But it’s the ducks that get set free the most, said Trace Feed owner Andy Luckett.
“When the new wears off, there are a lot of places to find them a home,” he said.
Many are dumped or set free – depending on your perspective – at Ballard Park in Tupelo.
Yet, the store employees say many of the pets go on to live long lives with their owners, who return for a new pet every year.
Johnson said he can see the appeal of Easter pets, especially rabbits, because they are easy to care for.
“But you don’t want to get a male and a female together,” he said. “You’ll have a problem.”

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.