Up the Crick Down Pine CreekJun 30, 2020 02:15PM ● By Linda Roller
You know you want to stop. How can you resist those beckoning signs—topped by an old canoe? They promise whimsy and fun, and that is exactly what you will find at Up the Crick, located at the former Poust’s store between Jersey Shore and Waterville at 5099 North Route 44.
Erika Morgan is the master of ceremonies at a business that celebrates central and north central Pennsylvania in art, food, and community. It literally spills out of the shop onto the porch. Inside, art and jewelry sparkle from the walls and racks, and foods made only in Pennsylvania flow from antique cupboards and baskets that abound. In the back of one room, a counter from Poust’s old store, lovingly restored, now provides a place for tasting the Freas Farm wines made in the Bloomsburg/Berwick area—a selection of whites and reds from this vineyard await you. Two wine slushy machines slowly rotate, providing refreshing beverages for warm summer days.
Poust’s store closed over ten years ago, and when Erika revitalized the space she started with thirty-two local artists. She now hosts eighty-eight individual artists within these magical walls. Her dedication to Pennsylvania products and artists has earned her shop a “PA Preferred” certificate, and several of the artists she features are also certified.
She has always had an artistic vision. She and her husband arrived in the Pine Creek valley nine years ago from rural Michigan, thanks to work in the gas industry. This part of Pennsylvania, with the mountains and lush valleys, stole her heart.
“When I travel back (from Michigan), I begin to feel ‘back home’ when I get to Snowshoe and see the mountains here,” she admits.
As an artist herself, Erika sold at festivals and had her artwork in five shops. “So,” she says, “when I decided to open my own shop, I already had a customer base.” And since opening last year, the local response has been swift and very positive. Erika says the comment she receives most often is: “We needed this here.”
It’s not just art, wonderful snacks, and wine. Every Friday, Erika makes a loop in our area to bring local fresh goods to the hikers, bikers, kayakers, and other Pine Creek valley guests who were unable to resist that canoe pointing the way to Up the Crick.
“I start in Salona,” she explains. “There, at the Friday Schoolhouse Market, an Amish baker provides me with baked goods and the best whoopie pies anywhere. People love them.” Then it’s on to some other shops, and finally to the Amish produce auction in Loganton. There is a section of the auction that sells only locally grown produce. Finally, she’s in Jersey Shore for a supply of kombucha and cheese.
For Erika, art and community go together, and what better way than a Saturday with invited artists, craftspeople, and local food vendors. The area around the store can accommodate twenty vendors, so in the summer of 2019, shortly after she opened, she created the Second Saturday Market. It was so popular, and became even more popular when, for the last two Saturdays of 2019, she added a kids’ craft area.
But that wasn’t all.
“I had so many ideas for Up the Crick!” she says. Again, it was community involvement in learning a new craft, making jelly or bread, or canning. As the crowds dwindled, she closed her doors in January and began offering classes for local people. They were gaining in popularity, when, in mid-March, the pandemic closed all non-essential businesses.
For many businesses and artisans, the subsequent return to “normal” continues to be slow. Erika saw a need. Festivals, fairs, and shows have been cancelled throughout the summer of 2020. The artisans and crafters who depend on reaching their clientele at these large events are, themselves, up the proverbial “crick” and likely not going to be able to exhibit. What to do with the things already made for the now-cancelled events?
“So many people have inventory, and there are no markets,” Erika says. “The big invitation venues are closed.” So, she has expanded the Second Saturday to include Sunday, which began in June, and will continue through the summer and fall. The first “Second Weekend” was a June Oktoberfest, and featured local brats and beer to welcome the return of people to Up the Crick. For July, Erika is featuring Freas Farm Winery. This winery is new to the shop for 2020 (remember those slushy machines!) and has produced an impressive selection of fifteen wines.
There is now an expanded area in the shop for classes and workshops, and Erika is again planning classes for the cold weather months. Again, local artists, bakers, and masters of forgotten arts will be teaching neighbors and friends. You will find at Up the Crick, whether your visit is virtual on Facebook or in person, that it’s all about bringing art to people, helping a community to create, and helping to create a community. It’s a recipe for not only business success, but for a stronger and more far-reaching community, which just happens to be nestled in a very special valley.
Find out more at upthecrick44.com or call (570) 865-6247.