Krotz Springs’ treasure trove
A peculiarly decorated mounted deer head hangs out of an old camper in front of Cricket’s Bait Shop. The queen deer is just one of the eccentric displays of art you will find at Cricket’s. The deer is adorned with a lady’s scarf, a blond wig, and a crown placed in between its large antlers. (Gazette photos by Elizabeth West)
Cricket’s Bait Shop owner, Cricket works on a display in front of her Krotz Springs bait shop. The flag was sent to Cricket from a Mississippi man that had visited her shop one time. Cricket proudly displayed her latest addition to her collection of treasures in between two deer heads that had been given to her. (Gazette photos by Elizabeth West)
Right outside the front door of Cricket’s Bait Shop is a one of kind free handed drawing of the unique bait shop. Cricket drew the picture of her business on an old rusted icebox, which can be seen upon your entry into the bait shop. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)
A treasure box sitting outside of Cricket's Bait Shop. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)
By: ELIZABETH WEST
KROTZ SPRINGS -- You rarely connect treasure hunting with buying fishing bait, but somehow 52-year-old Krotz Springs local resident Cricket has found a way to make these two acts work well together. So much so, that even television shows have been eager to catch a glimpse into Cricket’s oversized treasure chest.
The magnificent pile of treasure that Cricket, who is only ever referred to as Cricket, has managed to accumulate over the years through purchasing storage units is something the humbled bait shop owner plays down by saying “it’s nothing special.”
The abundant amount of what Cricket calls “stuff” may seem like nothing special to the woman who has collected it all, but the remarkable collection of trinkets, big and small, that surround Cricket’s true business, her bait shop, is special enough to have attracted producers from the History Channel’s popular reality show American Pickers.
The hit show American Pickers features two men searching throughout the country for unique places filled with what some may say is one man’s trash but another man’s treasure, just like Cricket’s. The stars of the show pick through places like Cricket’s with the hope of finding historical or rare items.
While some may jump at an opportunity to be seen on television, for Cricket the fame is something she can live without.
After playing a voicemail from a History Channel employee Cricket said, “I started the process to be on the show, but it was pretty long. They wanted to come down here and scope out my place but honestly, that’s really not what I am all about so I decided to not do it.”
For the small town woman, collecting her “stuff” is something she doesn’t do for other people. Cricket said, “I realized I didn’t need them to come here because really I collect all of these things because I enjoy doing it.”
What Cricket finds more entertaining than being sought after by American Pickers is the curiosity that her unique place creates in the minds of everyday people passing by. Some of her visitors have stopped in only after noticing the odd but intriguing collection of arts and crafts that embellish the front of the land Cricket leases to house all of her goodies.
Cricket said, “People are always stopping by to check out what I have even though my place is really just a bait shop. Some even stop just to take a picture.”
Since opening Cricket’s Bait Shop in 2004, Cricket has continued to acquire gems from mostly storage units that she has purchased to keep her collection growing.
Along with everyday items that can be found in structures that Cricket has either hand built herself or has had others help build, Cricket’s Bait Shop has also come to be known for the folk art that the shop’s eccentric owner has on display.
While feeding her massive turtle, that lives at the bait shop, Cricket told a story about an odd piece of artwork hanging above an old license plate that read, “Edwards Governor.”
The large drawing, which showcased a mason jar full of kerosine on the left, a donkey head in the center, and kerosine lantern to the right, was something Cricket purchased from a young lady who had stopped by looking for a little help.
Cricket said, “That drawing actually came from a girl who was trying to get gas money to go visit her mom in New Orleans for Mother’s Day. I had to help the girl out so I bought the drawing from her.”
Cricket knew she had just the perfect spot to hang this odd but intriguing piece of art.
The creatively in-tuned artist said, “There was a perfect amount of space to hang the drawing above the Edwin Edwards license plate in the turtle cage so I put it there.”
While explaining the story behind the drawing, Cricket began to chuckle.
Cricket said, “Once I figured out that the drawing meant “light your ass on fire,” I thought it was in an appropriate spot hanging above the Edwards license plate.” Cricket continued to laugh as she said, “I bet back in the day Edwards lit plenty of people’s asses on fire.”
It is that kind of quirkiness that Cricket possesses that has led to the creation of her very distinctive bait shop. However, today, even though she continues to raid storage units to continue adding to her trove of delightful things, many of the items being displayed in the front of Cricket’s shop are pieces of art that past visitors have given to her.
Cricket said, “A lot of times after people visit they will send me stuff. For instance, a man from Mississippi came here not that long ago and during our conversation I told him how I have been having a hard time finding a Confederate Flag around here. A week later, I received a flag in the mail from the man.”
That flag now hangs in front of Cricket’s shop. However, it is not a flag pole that flies the flag high. Instead, Cricket used the flag to make a piece of art unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Cricket attached the flag to two wooden posts, and then took two mounted deer heads that had been given to her by a local and placed one on each side of the flag. She then found old weathered strips of wood to hang above and below the flag.
For Cricket, all of that work was to create something “different than just hanging the flag somewhere.”
Although nothing has a price tag on it, Cricket said, “If someone comes in here and sees something they would like to buy then I usually just ask them how much they will give me for it. If it’s a price I like, I’ll say yes. If not, then I just don’t sell it.”
The eclectic shop, however, is something that Cricket hopes to eventually have set up in a way where people can go to the bait shop for the purpose of picking through her collection.
Cricket said, “Because of the bad weather this year, some of my buildings got damaged. Once I can get all of that fixed and get everything organized, I will be able to start letting people look through everything in the back again.”
Although what Cricket’s Bait Shop has turned into wasn’t exactly what she had expected, it has been quite enjoyable for Cricket. She said, “I had a junk shop years ago, but then I decided I wanted to start the bait shop, which has now turned into something a lot more. It is a lot of work to keep up but at the end of the day, I enjoy it so much and people enjoy it. That’s really all that matters to me.”