In 2016, Karen Brace faced a peculiar challenge – eleven baby opossums. At the time, Karen her knowledge about these fascinating creatures was minimal.
A licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Virginia since 2012, Karen’s initial work revolved around caring for various animals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs. When a litterbox of opossums came into her care, she dedicated herself to learning about these creatures, realizing the prevalent misconceptions and misinformation surrounding them. All eleven possums were rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild. Karen started Awesome Possumz LLC in early 2019 when it was determined that Stuart, one of her former rehab animals, could not be released in the wild.
Karen first visited the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) in August 2021, where she reviewed plans to rent a downtown store. Engaging in webinars and business boot camps, Karen found the SBDC a great resource. March 2022 saw the launch of her store, Possum-bilities, with a clear mission: to promote awareness and education about opossums and rehabilitate them for a second chance at thriving in the wild. Through the SBDC’s support, Awesome Possumz was featured in Porch Magazine. In addition, students from the Marketing Program at UMW collaborated with Karen on strengthening Awesome Possumz’ marketing strategy and plan.
Possum-bilities serves not only as a store but a community hub where people can come in, learn, and interact with opossums. Karen aimed to fill in the gap in the market for cute opossum-themed merchandise and also offers wildlife and nature-related gift items, local artwork along with hosting engaging events. Awesome Possumz has expanded over time from being open one day a week to five days a week. Continuous growth and goal achievement is always on the mind of Karen.
Building relationships with downtown businesses has been crucial in furthering Awesome Possumz cause. The business has partnered with a local wine barn to organize events that raised funds and awareness for opossum rehabilitation. Additionally, they engage in bartering arrangements, collaborating with businesses who provide delicious coffee treats for events, creating a sense of community around the mission. Karen currently supports more than 65 other businesses, including 35 local artists who sublet space in her store.
Through partnerships, support from the community, and assistance from organizations like the SBDC, Karen has been able to create a haven for the amazing opossums. Karen wants to continue to provide the necessary education to the public to reach one goal — “changing one perspective, one possum at a time.”
Possum-bilities welcomes visitors Thursday to Monday featuring an opossum and other animals on display. To learn more about Awesome Possumz LLC and how they positively impact opossums in Fredericksburg, visit their social media accounts: FB: Possum-bilities in the Burg2, IG: @awesomepossumz1, Website: awesomepossumz.com