‘I’m Gonna Keep On Truckin’

Karla Wall Tuesday, November 11, 2014 0
‘I’m Gonna Keep On Truckin’
72-Year-Old DeRidder Businesswoman, Community Activist Isn’t Letting Age Slow Her Down

deridder lady
Talk to Anna Wiggins for any length of time, and you realize she
doesn’t do things halfway. She’s definitely not a “going through the
motions” kind of person.
She’s owned and operated Curious Cargo in DeRidder for 30 years, and
has made the business so successful that it was named Small Business
of the Year by the Beauregard Parish Chamber of Commerce in 1998, 2002
and 2013. She isn’t simply a member of the Chamber, either — she’s
served three terms on the organization’s board of directors since
1984, and was named the Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year in
2010.
She was named the SWLA Women’s Business Leader of the Year by the
Chamber SWLA.
As her three children — Lynn, Lori and John — were growing up, she
didn’t just show up and watch her children play youth baseball and
softball; she was a board member of the DeRidder Dixie Baseball/
Softball Association for three years, during which she turned the
program’s concession stand into a profit maker. She was also named the
organization’s Baseball Mom of the Year in 1983.
She didn’t simply buy fundraising candy and attend a few PTO meetings
when her kids were going to school, of course. She served on PTO
boards, was a room mother, and headed up various fundraisers,
including a Halloween haunted house that’s still talked about over 30
years later. She was a member of the DeRidder Junior High and High
School Athletic Booster Clubs. She served as a Brownie and Girl Scout
leader.
She doesn’t just donate money to the local American Cancer Society
branch; she’s been the group’s treasurer for their Bid For Bachelors
fundraiser, and serves as chef for the group’s Murder Mystery
fundraiser, as well.
A lifelong lover of theatre, she doesn’t just attend productions of
the local Impromptu Players theatre group; she’s served as the group’s
president for the last 19 years, has directed plays, worked backstage,
made sets, spearheaded the group’s effort to find a permanent home,
and prepares meals for the group’s dinner theatre productions.
“We’re one of only three or four theatre groups left in the U.S. who
serve dinner at the theater,” she says proudly. “Almost all groups now
send you to a restaurant for dinner and then back to the theatre for
the play.”
She enjoys gardening. She doesn’t just plant a garden, of course;
she’s a past member of the DeRidder Gardenettes, and has served on
several committees for the group, including heading up the children’s
floral division at the annual Beauregard Parish Fair. She’s locally
known as the “go-to person” for help with planning and planting
country gardens.
Wiggins has been named the DeRidder Junior Women’s Club’s Outstanding
Club Woman Of The Year; served on the committee to restore Woodlawn
Cemetery’s baby cemetery; has judged the Vernon Parish Forestry
Festival’s children’s pageant four times; has assisted in numerous
civic projects, including park beautification and clean city efforts;
and has served as a member of the planning and organization committees
for the Beauregard Pioneer Festival.
Oh, and she’s served as grand marshall of the 2010 Beauregard
Christmas parade, and as the DeRidder Women’s League’s 2011 Mardi Gras
queen.
You get the picture. The lady doesn’t like to have a lot of “down time.”
“I want to stay busy,” she says firmly. “I see so many people who
retire, and they let themselves get bored and sick. I don’t want that.”
No chance of that.
Her business alone would keep most younger people feeling exhausted.
Wiggins opened Curious Cargo 30 years ago, after selling the Pier 1
franchise she’d owned on Ft. Polk for four years back to the company.
“I started working at the Pier 1 at Ft. Polk in 1984, she says. “My
kids were out of school, and I wanted to work.”
The owner retired, and Wiggins decided to buy the store from him. A
few years later, Pier 1 began buying franchises back, Wiggins says,
and she decided to take them up on an offer.
“I liked the idea of being able to change my business name and do my
own thing,” she says.
Curious Cargo is open six days per week, 9:30 am-5:30 pm, and offers
unique items — gourmet coffees, LSU and Saints products, Louisiana
souvenirs, gift baskets, Christmas and other holiday ornaments, music
boxes and beautiful Rhythm musical wall clocks.
“We like to carry things you won’t find in other stores,” Wiggins says.
And Wiggins, with the help of her staff, not only finds and stocks
those unique items, but also goes the extra mile to find special-
order, hard-to-find items for her customers upon request.
“We had one customer who was looking for opossum ornaments for her
grandson,” Wiggins recalls. “We searched and searched. Let me tell
you, I’m now certain there are no opossum ornaments to be found. We
would have found them.”
Wiggins says DeRidder is a wonderful place to be in business.
“There are great people here,” she says. “That’s one of the things I
love most about (running the business) — there are great people here
who try to shop locally when they can and support their local
businesses. I’ve met the neatest people in this store.”
Of her many civic activities, Wiggins seems, justifiably, most proud
of the theatre group.
“It’s really going strong,” she says.
The theatre does three productions per year, Wiggins says, as well as
a Christmas musical production, and offers summer camps for children.
At an age at which far too many people, by choice or not, are living
life at a snail’s pace, Wiggins keeps the schedule of a young person.
And, she says, she has no intention of slowing down.
“As long as I’m able to keep on truckin’, I’m gonna keep on truckin’,”
she says.