Posted by: Lyle Blackburn on June 6th, 2013
When I started researching for my book, The Beast of Boggy Creek, the first place I visited was the Monster Mart in Fouke, Arkansas. At the time, the Monster Mart was an unassuming little convenience store that only hinted at the town’s big legend. The outside of the store did have a small mural of the creature (made famous by the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek), but the inside merely offered a cheerless curio case and a few old newspaper clippings tacked to bulletin board near the front door. It was better than nothing, but all in all, a rather disappointing display of memorabilia and crude merchandise that, to me, seemed unworthy of the town’s intriguing history.
Since the release of my book, however, there have been some major changes which have elevated the historical recognition of the legend and the curb appeal of the Monster Mart itself.
One reason for the transformation is due to the latest owners, the Roberts family. Shortly after I started my research, the store was purchased by Denny Roberts. Roberts grew up in Fouke and has a deep respect for the historical aspects of the legend. It was his intention to improve the Monster Mart and make it a place where visitors could find information about the creature, view historic items, and of course, find a few quality souvenirs that folks could take home with them.
Another reason for the transformation is the visitors themselves (perhaps yourself). There’s not a day that goes by in which at least someone from out of town – even from other countries – stops into the Monster Mart to ask about the creature. It’s this steady stream of fascinated people that Denny felt deserved something better.
Moving towards this goal, the Roberts family (it’s a true family operation) has transformed the inside and outside of the store. Whereas once I could only find a small curio case and yellowed clippings on a corkboard, there is now a room dedicated to the monstrous legend. The room features a new mural (great for photo ops), framed newspaper articles, movie posters, and statues. 8×10 photos of important sites can also be found hanging throughout the store. The merchandise, as well, has gone from one crude t-shirt design and a few postcards to an array of cool Fouke Monster items including mugs, keychains, hand-made dolls, vials of Boggy Creek “Swamp Water,” posters, several t-shirts, and of course, books. This may seem like a plan to capitalize on the legend, and in some ways it is since it is the Roberts’ source of income, but it’s done out of respect and in response to all the travelers that have dropped by and asked for souvenirs. The money brought in by these sales has also helped fund more improvements, one of these being a new “Monster Mart” sign on top of the building. It’s still a work in progress, but no longer is this little store a mere hint of the big legend, it’s a legend unto itself with an enormous bigfoot rising up from the rooftop! If it wasn’t already, it should be a must-stop on any bigfooter’s roadtrip.
Of course, some may prefer that the legend remain quiet. The town has always been reluctant to embrace such a controversial legend, and that’s understandable. But as the Fouke Monster’s biographer and a lifelong fan of The Legend of Boggy Creek, I can’t help but to be thrilled!
Visit the Fouke Monster Mart at:
104 Highway 71
Fouke, Arkansas 71837
More information about the Monster Mart: www.foukemonstermart.net
More information about the Fouke Monster: www.foukemonster.net