If you think that haunted houses and cemeteries are the only places spirits reside, get ready to call your local Ghostbusters. All across America, rumors swirl surrounding weird experiences at some of the most trafficked places in the country—retail stores! Want to make your shopping experience just a little bit creepier? Check out any of these locales below.
1. PIKE PLACE MARKET // SEATTLE
As one of the most famous public markets in the country, Pike Place Market is known for a lot of things: fresh coffee, fresher fish, and paranormal activity. The Seattle Times reported on a number of figures who supposedly walk through walls or vanish into thin air—one older gentleman named Frank apparently likes to introduce himself to the living outside of a restroom at the Alibi Room. Various other spirits also have names, like Princess Angeline, Madame Nora, and the "Fat Lady Barber."
At one point in the early 1900s, one section of the market was home to a mortuary. Currently operating in the basement of that space is Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub. Its manager, Patrick McAleese, recalled some eerie instances to the Times, such as a wall mirror inexplicably shattering, only to have the shards fall into a neat pile. "You think someone must be pulling your leg," he said. "But then you don't see anyone."
2. COS // NEW YORK CITY
New Yorkers can brush elbows with a ghost while doing some light shopping in Soho. The legend dates back to 1799, when Gulielma Elmore Sands tried to elope with her fellow boardinghouse tenant, Levi Weeks. Eleven days later, her body was found at the bottom of the well in Lispenard's Meadow—which is now 129 Spring Street. Since 2014, it's been the site of a COS retail store.
Levi was arrested, tried, and acquitted in the first major murder trial in America that was fully recorded by a court stenographer. His attorneys? Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr! But Sands's ghost is said to roam the area, a warning to other girls who might try to run off with their lovers. Curious shoppers can still see the well in COS—just head to the back of the men’s department in the basement.
3. CHERRYVALE MALL // ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS
Since its opening in 1973, the CherryVale Mall in Rockford, Illinois has been the site of some spooky vibes. The Rock River Times noted that mall employees reported feeling watched or followed after the venue closed at night. Others have reported that certain stores would be a mess in the morning, with clothing scattered or displays knocked over, even if the space was cleaned before being locked up. And, on an even more unsettling note, some even claimed that bathroom doors were held shut by an unknown force.
4. KMART // COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO
OK, technically the Kmart in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho isn’t haunted—but one of its cash registers reportedly is! Employee Tamara Dobbs told the Coeur d'Alene Press that from her very first day at the store, she noticed register No. 2 was strange. Specifically, that it was haunted by a male presence and, she claims, "He monkeys with all the sales."
The store’s manager, Lauren Larson, noted that employees "just don't like to be assigned to work on it" because it frequently freezes, clears its memory, and transactions are lost. In his words, the register is "an independent thinker" that "loses its mind," though technicians can't seem to find a specific problem with the machine.
5. BROWSE AWHILE BOOKS // TIPP CITY, OHIO
Browse Awhile Books, which specializes in rare and out-of-print books, is rumored to be home to as many as 13 ghosts. Paranormal sightings reportedly include books randomly falling off shelves, voices being heard, footsteps in areas without customers, and, yes, actual ghost sightings. Brian Stephenson, director of the Valley View Paranormal Society, experienced a couple of particularly unsettling incidents, according to the Tipp News Daily. In one, he was scratched a number of times in the basement, and in another, he claimed to have been partially possessed and to have blacked out momentarily while in the sci-fi room.
6. JOHN K. KING USED & RARE BOOKS // DETROIT
Owner John K. King told the Detroit Free Press that strange occurrences had been happening in his store for decades. He dates it back to when items belonging to a woman who committed suicide were brought into the space. Soon after, employees reported hearing footsteps and doors slamming, but when the woman's things were moved out, King said everything went back to normal. "Nothing happened ever again that was weird," he said. "It doesn't mean she's not there, but I just haven't noticed her." A local psychic claims the bookstore may still be active though, based on a late, former employee who may be keeping tabs on his basement office.
7. TOYS "R" US // SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA
A haunted toy store sounds like a solid horror movie plot, but it’s rumored to be a reality in Sunnyvale, California. According to Stranger Dimensions, the legend goes as such: The store was built on property that was formerly a plantation. The plantation’s owner, Martin Murphy, hired a preacher named Johnny Johnson. "Crazy Johnny," as the preacher was nicknamed, was in love with Murphy’s daughter, Elizabeth. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was planning on marrying a lawyer, and, as the story has it, Johnny was angrily chopping wood one day and fatally wounded himself by accident. His ghost reportedly wanders the land—now home to the Toys "R" Us—looking for Elizabeth. The usual objects coming off of shelves and footsteps have been reported, but the best anecdote (i.e. the one most becoming of a religious apparition) was of employees once hearing a voice whisper "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away" over the intercom system.
8. DIMOND CENTER // ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
The Dimond Center shopping mall in Anchorage, Alaska was reportedly built above an ancient burial ground of Native Alaskans. People have claimed to hear drum and flute music and to have seen various ghosts in native dress wandering the hallways. But most spooky are the claims that transparent wolves are also prowling the mall!