The Sandhills Curiosity Shop, opened by Harley Russell and his late wife Annabelle, is one of the few stores with countless items on display, but nothing is actually for sale. Instead, the shop is a showcase of decades’ worth of Route 66 memorabilia, proudly displayed in every square inch of the property.
Although the store doesn’t have any regular business hours, Russell will gladly open the doors to guests any time of day or night that he happens to be around. He greets his visitors with a smile and joke or two, introducing himself as one-half of the “Mediocre Music Makers,” an informal band he formed with his beloved wife Annabelle, who passed away in 2014.
Russell loves to entertain his visitors, inviting them to sit in the vintage oak chairs that line his shop and join in on some of his favorite honky-tonk songs. Any guests with a penchant for music are welcome to play along in an impromptu jam session.
Harley Russell doesn’t describe himself as a trained musician, saying in a recent interview, “I’m just a performer—some kind of performer. I don’t really know. I know I’m not a guitar player. We always want something to relate to other than our real selves.” Despite his lack of formal training, Russell’s guests rave about his self-proclaimed “Mediocre Music and Insanity Show,” leaving the donations and tips that keep his unusual establishment afloat.
Russell encourages guests to take pictures of his Hillbilly paradise. They’ll find no end of vintage signs, antique furniture, old guitars, and Route 66 memorabilia to hold their attention. The store, located just off old Route 66 in Erick, inside Oklahoma’s oldest brick building, has helped revitalize the area and breathe life back into the town dubbed “The Hillbilly Capital of the World.” One thing is sure – there is no better frontman for Erick’s hillbilly pride than Harley Russell.