Holt shares treasures with others

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Bill Holt and The Treasure Chest owner Kelli Malin with some of Holt's popular replica cars, currently on display at the store. Holt's display includes several memorable cars in addition to a selection of photos from the past.

Anticipation is mounting for the annual Heritage Park Car Show, set for the weekend of May 18-20, but the yearly event is not the only unique display catching the keen eyes of fans and collectors.

For the past several years, Bill Holt of Piggott has been wowing crowds with his own public displays, though most of his cars are more at home on a mantle than in a garage. Holt, an avid collector of 1/32nd scale replica vehicles and local memorabilia, is happy to share with others his treasures and the passion behind his hobby.

Several of Holt's favorite models currently are on display in the window of The Treasure Chest at 239 West Main in Piggott, where they will continue to delight visitors and locals alike during the lead-up and hosting of the Heritage Park event.

"I love collecting them," Holt said. "I like displaying them, too. I've met a lot of people and made a lot of friends through these shows. A lot of folks are interested in the same things I am, and they have fun seeing the cars and the photos I put up."

Holt is known for his outgoing personality and his fun, good nature. Those points, in conjunction with the mystique and subsequent interest which so often surrounds classic vehicles and memories of days gone by, have combined to make his yearly displays a success.

"I get a lot of compliments," Holt said. "A lot of people will see a car in my collection and they'll say, 'I remember those,' or 'I always wanted one of those.' Those kinds of memories are fun to share and talk about."

Holt has been collecting the model cars since 1987. He has more than 300 of the reproductions in his collection, which features vehicles from the early 1900s to now. His favorite pieces are those representing the 1940s and 1950s, as they were the vehicles he identified with during his own youth.

"Any time I see one from that time that I don't have, I've got to get it," Holt said. "They're the ones that really stand out to me. Even if it's like one I already have, but just a different color, I'll still go ahead and get it."

Placing the vehicles where they can be seen is not enough for Holt. He takes his displays a step further, crafting streets and road and business signs, all built to scale. These touches add a realistic feel which helps capture the essence of Americana.

"I like working on all the little details. I'm always watching for things I can use to make signs and use in my displays. That's where a lot of the fun is."

Holt's love for collecting things which catch his eye encompasses a wide range of items from records and photos to comic books. He has two storage buildings which are filled with his own personal treasures. He says it's not likely he'll stop looking for additions any time soon.

"I collect a lot of different things," Holt said. "Everything's beautiful to me. I enjoy the things I have and even the things I don't have yet."

Kelli Malin, owner of The Treasure Chest, has joined Holt in the spirit of his display, noting the attractions offer joy to many and help capture the spirit of small community life.

A sample of Holt's replicas is currently on display at The Treasure Chest. The models, along with several photos offering a glimpse into the past of Piggott and Northeast Arkansas, will be remain in place through the Heritage Park Car Show on the weekend of May 18-20.

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