Many locals may have noticed familiar scenes while watching "Water for Elephants," filmed in part in Walker County. LaFayette resident Mandi Millican also noticed her suitcase.
Her suitcase is the one Jacob, played by Robert Pattinson, takes with him on his journey. As the co-owner of the new Heirlooms Vintage Boutique and Rentals, she provides many rent-to-own items for local customers - and movie crews filming locally.
Millican began renting out items from her wedding in 2010 to people and the business continues to steadily grow, so she recently opened a storefront in the Mars Theater District of LaFayette.
"When we watched the movie, we were like 'Oh my gosh, that's our suitcase,'" said Millican, referring to watching "Water for Elephants" with her mom, co-owner Karen Mason. "The directors have to keep all the items from the set in case there is a sequel."
Millican said she was able to go on the set of the movie and watch the filming at the farmhouse in Walker County. She said she also provided items including the washtub Jacob and Marlena's children play in at the end of the movie as well as a set of skeleton keys.
"We carry a lot of vintage-style antiques," said Millican. "We rent furniture for props. We rent couches for photo shoots."
The store sells Cowgirl Tuff clothing, Old West women's cowgirl boots and vintage necklaces, furniture and small antiques. The fashionable looking store's centerpiece is numerous colorful glass antique bottles with Millican's antique handmade necklaces strung around each one. One necklace incorporates chandelier pieces, vintage hat pins and antique broaches.
"All of my necklaces are hand-created," said Millican. "A lady brought me vintage jewelry from her grandmother and I made jewelry out of it. She runs a fashion blog in New York, so I hope she blogs about my jewelry."
She encourages local artisans to create things and sell them in her store. For example, Heirlooms store manager Brandi Cumbee Gibbs hand-creates body scrubs to be sold in the store and plans to add body powders and lotions soon too.
Other artists sell spoon jewelry, metal ornaments, wreathes made out of hymnal pages, handmade baby bibs and handmade alpaca fur toboggans and scarves. Gloves, vintage headbands, boot socks with ruffles and antiques are also found in the store.
"With wedding season coming up, we offer church pews for wedding seating," said Millican. "We have French couches and chaise lounges. We have farm tables, chairs and chandeliers. We have beautiful white gates for the backdrop of a wedding."
She said in a recent mock wedding photo shoot, Pigeon Mountain Plantation used Heirlooms' furniture on the set. Coming up, a similar photo shoot for Mountain Cove Farms will incorporate Heirlooms' furniture.
"We hope once people see we are running a successful business that they will open a store too," said Millican, who successfully ran Farm House Mercantile in Flintstone for three years where she originally started her antique rentals.