When Elizabeth Mahon, owner of Three Littles toy store near Union Market, first saw stuffed toy rats at a design trade show in August, she fell in love. And while her DC shop might be uniquely situated to carry them (what with the city’s decades-long familiarity with the creatures), she wasn’t totally sure other people would see it her way.
“Thankfully I have a really dedicated customer base on Instagram and whenever I’m unsure about something, I gauge interest. So I asked my followers to ensure I wouldn’t be stuck with a bunch of stuffed animal rats that no one wanted.”
Much to her surprise—and delight—she says, they were a hit. Many people commented that their kids “love seeing rats running around” (yeah, you can pause there for a second), or thought they were generally funny and relevant “considering DC’s ever-growing rat issues.” Someone who works in the Rodent and Vector Control Division of the DC Department of Health even reached out about buying one for their boss, she says. But not everyone was a fan: some people have reached their “rat capacity” and seeing one—even an oddly cute, 15-inch corduroy one—in vintage-inspired plush on shelves was enough, Mahon says, to “push them over the edge.”
When she first shared the news (and photos) that the larger-than-life (we hope) rats had arrived in store, Mahon added a warning for those who’d voted an emphatic “no” in her should-we-stock-these survey. But her favorite part of the social media frenzy that transpired was the response she got from people who were “originally anti-rat” but converted once they saw them. “We got a lot of messages like, ‘Okay, you were right, they’re pretty cute,’ or, ‘I voted no when you asked if you should get them because I was not expecting to like them, but I actually kind of do.’ “
Perhaps you can find ways to keep (real) rats out of your garbage can, but the innocuous $46 stuffie version can still find its way into your home.