When Annie Levesque, a former commercial real estate agent, first opened her shop in a nondescript brick storefront in the tiny town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1996, she had no idea that her store would become a tourist attraction.
“The shop was called Cricket Crafts,” Levesques mother, Julie, recalls.
“It was one of the first shops I ever went to.”
A year later, Levesques first opened Cricket Craft Shop, in the same brick storefront she had built as an art gallery.
Since then, Leveques creations have become a national symbol of the art, craft and crafty community.
Today, Cricket Craft has a dedicated art gallery and more than 200 locations in 10 states, including Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama.
Levesqes father, Brian, founded Cricket Craft in 1991 as a hobby shop.
“I thought it would be fun for me to sell handcrafted goods,” he says.
“We thought we’d create a business for ourselves.”
Cricket Craft opened a second shop in 1996 and then another in 1997.
Leveques parents, Julie and Dave Levesqs, bought the business and renamed it Cricket Craft.
Cricket Craft is now in six locations in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and New Jersey, and it opened a third shop in New York City last year.
CricketCraft’s success has made Levesqua, a self-described “artisan junkie,” a household name in Louisiana.
Levensque says her customers are drawn to the shops because they have the opportunity to create something they would never do on their own.
“You can go in and create something you couldn’t do on your own,” she says.
Cricket Shop is a destination shop that sells items like hats, necklaces, earrings, ear rings and other jewelry, and sells a variety of handcrafted items such as clothing, craft supplies and more.
Levinques father says he’s had more than 20 customers who want to buy the items they are selling.
“They go in to see what it’s all about,” he recalls.
Cricket has become a big draw for tourists.
In 2016, the museum sold over 1 million tickets to its exhibitions, including the work of Levesquer.
Levsque says Cricket is the “most popular tourist attraction in the state of Louisiana.”
LevesQueens mother, Christine, remembers buying tickets to the museum’s opening in 1999.
Levisque remembers buying her first ticket for a tour to the store in 2003, but she says she doesn’t remember how long she was there.
“She didn’t know that the store was a national treasure,” Levinque says.
Levelles mother, the first lady of the state, Julie Levesqa, says Cricket Craft attracts “everybody” and that the town is proud of the work it is doing.
“People come here to enjoy the shop, because they love it,” Leveque says of Cricket.
“Cricket Craft has become such a part of our culture that we don’t see it any other way.”
Leveqs mother says she and her husband bought the shop in 2002.
“All we wanted to do was keep the store open,” Levells mother says.
She says she remembers one customer coming into the store and taking a selfie with her.
“He was the nicest person in the world,” Levenses mother says, adding that her husband would often bring her home to the shop.
Lelevesque says she also thinks the store’s popularity is because people have become accustomed to seeing it in the movies.
“When we go to the movies, it’s so nice to have that store,” Lelevequess says.
There is a small souvenir shop in Cricket that Levesquez also uses as a gift shop.
It sells crafts for people who can’t afford traditional gifts, but it is also a good place for people to shop for their own handmade items.
Leversque says people come here for the experience.
“My shop is like a small museum,” she explains.
“A lot of people are coming in because they want to see the craft and see the people.”
Levisques father, Dave Leveq, says the best thing about Cricket is its popularity.
“For people who are into craft, it is an adventure,” Levsquess adds.
Levysque says it is a good thing that Cricket Craft and the nearby Museums of Louisiana have created a special place for visitors.
“That’s the magic,” she said.
“There’s so much craft and craftsmanship in this town, and you can go to other places and you will not be disappointed.”
Cricket is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 p.b. to 5 p.a.
Cricket is also open on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Leviaques father Dave, who is a musician, says he has