Much can be found down at the Crossroads

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

DEERING - With a little imagination you can hear it sung as a different rendition of an old blues song picked on the guitar somewhere in heart of the Mississippi Delta

"Go on down to the Crossroads, you can find anything you need."

Well, it may not be a song and Lawrence County would hardly be considered the deep South but, the rest fits well. For the past six years, Crossroads Mini Mart at the intersection of State Route 243 and County Road 6 in Deering has sat as a throwback to times gone by.

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A convenient mart on the surface, the little country store, with shelves lined with goods, seems far more than that a commercial gas station chain once you peel away a layer or two. The store owner may be as interesting as the variety of goods he sells.

"It is kind of, to me, like an old-time country store," says Carl Sparling, the 64-year-old owner, as he shows off the collection of goods that includes traditional convenient mart fare before moving along to a variety of things including straw, pumpkins, Amish goods, tools, feed, nuts and bolts, flowers, paint, dog collars and pretty much anything else you can think of.

"I am small time. I don't try to go big time. I'm just Carl. For a little place, I have got her well stocked."

Sparling bought the former gas station six years ago after retiring form Calgon "just to play with." Now he says it is good business and something he does not for the money, but because he enjoys the people and the place.

"What else am I going to do?" he says with a laugh. "A man that is 64-years-old, I ain't married, what else am I going to do? You can see everything there is to see in Lawrence County in a half an hour. I just like it."

His regular customers like it too.

Leatherwood resident Gordon Davis stops in for a visit whenever he can, if for no other reason than to chat with Carl.

"I'm just about here everyday. I just come out here to see Carl," he said.

"Neither one of us have any money. We just talk about what we should do, he said jokingly.

One of Carl's most popular attractions is the Amish food and goods that he buys in from a baker Gallipolis.

"I get some of everything he makes," Carl said. "Oh, it goes before the end of the week."