Max Scheinuk moved from his native Poland to the United States in 1906 with a background in horticultural studies. Three years later, he opened his first florist business in New Orleans: The Broadway Florist, located at the corner of Broadway and Panola streets. Ten years later, Scheinuk’s Florists opened in 1919 at 2600 St. Charles Ave., on the corner of Third Street.
Max’s son Arthur joined his father in the business (as later did his son, Ronnie), and they were very active in the local and national flower trade, as well as serving on the boards of a number of floral associations. They worked hard to beautify the city through civil volunteerism, educating people on how to use flowers and plants at home and in their yards and establishing a yearly flower show.
But for all that work with flowers, it was rabbits that made them famous. While it’s hard to pin down an exact date, the idea for having bunnies on display at the florist for Easter came to Arthur Scheinuk around 1940. Newspaper ads for “live rabbits” on display first showed up in 1948. Each year, a temporary outdoor “bunny town” was added to the front of the shop and filled with a collection of hutches painted to look like a village, complete with a church, schoolhouse, barn and of course, a florist.
And then for about two weeks, dozens of live bunnies would frolic around, much to the delight of visitors. Soon, an Easter trip to Scheinuk’s became tradition for many families. That tradition passed down through generations for the next 60 years.
For many years, people could purchase the bunnies for Easter presents (unsold bunnies were donated to Audubon Zoo). By 1991, after protests from animal rights groups and changes in state law, the rabbits were instead rented from local sources and returned after Easter. The display’s associated fees, workload and problems led to the end of Bunny Town in 2000.
Scheinuk’s closed in 2003, and the land was repurposed for luxury condominiums.