Every time he goes to work, Scott Meaker is welcomed by a friendly 9-foot-tall Sasquatch standing in front of Squatchy’s, a North Whidbey gift shop he opened with his business partner Charles Usery.
Squatchy the Sasquatch is no squatter. According to the store’s lore, he was found in the forest after peacefully passing away from natural causes. Now, he’s enjoying some post-mortem stardom as what Meaker believes is the tallest and most realistic fake taxidermied Sasquatch in the country.
Ever since he first appeared in the store adjacent to Deception Pass State Park, this big guy has been causing drivers to do double takes as they drive by while people pose for a photo next to him.
Though this elusive creature’s existence has been long debated by believers and skeptics, Meaker takes the matter seriously and is not afraid to share why.
It was the summer of 1979, and 16-year-old Meaker was on a road trip with his cousin. While driving through Yosemite National Park, they decided to pull over to admire the view of a beautiful valley.
Suddenly, a moving figure in the distance caught the cousins’ attention. Someone — or something — was walking across the valley at an unusually fast pace in an area where Meaker said there were no trails, meaning it was not accessible to humans.
Meaker remembers feeling baffled. How could a human walk at such high speed, be much taller than a basketball player and be covered in brown fur head to toe?
More than four decades after that strange encounter, Meaker still believes what he saw was a Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot.
“We think we occupy every inch of planet earth, but we actually only occupy a little bit of the wilderness,” he said. “Given the indigenous people’s lore on creatures like this, it would be disrespectful to say that categorically it doesn’t exist.”
Squatchy is a taxidermied replica of the creature Meaker remembers from that fateful day. Meaker created the creature in collaboration with Wildlife Obsessions Taxidermy, a taxidermist shop in King County, and a Brazilian-based artist who worked on constructing the creature’s face.
“We didn’t build a Halloween monster,” said Meaker, who graduated in biology magna cum laude from Western Washington University. “It’s an attempt between a biologist and a taxidermist to create as real a Bigfoot as we possibly could.”
Usery, who has a doctorate in pharmacy, also gave input on Squatchy during the creation process.
Meaker said the idea of a taxidermied Sasquatch came to mind before he and and Usery agreed on the name they would give to their Pacific Northwest themed store.
By opening Squatchy’s, Meaker and Usery — who live in Blaine and Ferndale, respectively — brought back to life the lodge-style building by the entrance to Deception Pass State Park. For years, they would drive by the building and think it was underused. That was until they finally decided to buy the property a few years ago, first using it as an events center for a little over a year. Then, they decided it was time to realize the building’s full potential.
The idea, Meaker said, was to open a fun and affordable business not just for the many tourists that visit the park and the island every year, but for locals as well. A place where someone could buy a unique gift, or taste what Meaker called “the best jerky in the world” — the Jerky Hut jerky, which he said is otherwise only available online.
Squatchy’s offers a variety of products, including $1 cotton candy made by a cotton candy robot, $1 coffee, $2 ice cream, West Coast taffy, bows and arrows, slingshots, handmade knives made with naturally shed antlers. Sleeping bags that can be used in minus-25 degree weather are located in an upstairs area entirely dedicated to camping gear.
In an effort to bring quality products from Pacific Northwest producers and artists, Meaker and Usery carefully selected their sources through months of interviews and research. Some items, such as the burnt wood maps of Deception Pass and the Salish Sea, the aromatic cedar puzzles and the graphic shirts and hoodies, were commissioned by Meaker and Usery and can only be found at Squatchy’s.
To keep things fresh, the partners plan to bring in new items every month and are always looking for artists to partner with.