Go inside the Cryptid Crate

 Books, patches, coasters are just some of the surprises awaiting you. (Handout)

Books, patches, coasters are just some of the surprises awaiting you. (Handout)

Derek Hayes took his love for all things cryptozoology and curated it into a monthly-subscription service featuring books, shirts, stickers and other cryptozoology-related accessories with Cryptid Crate. 

Hayes runs the paranormal podcast "Monsters Among Us" and jumped into the monthly boxed-merch trend last year. So, what goes into each monthly box that costs $39.99?

"First and foremost, I'm a cryptozoology fan, that's what lead me to start my podcast and that's what led me to launch Cryptid Crate." said Hayes. " So, curating items for each crate comes down to this; as a fan, what would I want?  I spend a lot of time researching; searching for that item you cant get at a souvenir shop or at your local Walmart. There's a certain balance, not only budgetary but also aesthetically, each item has to mesh well with other items included, and probably most importantly, have value."

Cryptid Crate takes an artisan and indie approach when seeking out who to work with.

"A majority of my items come straight from the artist or creator, thus far each t-shirt was purchased directly from the artist, each book and film also came directly from either the author or director," said Hayes. "Etsy.com is a big source for me, but to be honest a majority of my best finds come to me via email or Facebook when an artist seeks me out."

 In addition to " Monsters Among Us" podcast and Cryptid Crate, Hayes is also an artist who specializes in the paranormal and oddity aesthetic in his work. Last fall, he re-created a realistic-looking Yeti hand. With "Monsters Among Us" Hayes gets to crawl deep into the world of cryptids and the paranormal, and has heard some wild accounts. 

" I had one gentleman report seeing a man-sized spider with a human head while in battle in Bosnia," Hayes said. "Another caller reported seeing a 15-foot tall praying mantis-like alien while on an early morning jog, but I'd have to say the most disturbing encounters are of what I'm dubbing the mirrored men.   Over the past year, I've received nearly a dozen accounts of three cloaked beings, whom walk single file, each mimicking the movement of the leader.  These experiences typically take place in unassuming locations, often far from civilization.  As if these encounters were not troubling enough, almost every report also included a chunk of missing time."

And no, replica cloaks of the mirrored men are not currently included in the Cryptid Crate.

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-By MIKE DAMANTE