“Haunted” Country Store

June 14, 2013

In a little store in the village of Clarence, New York, items tumble from shelves, pictures fall from walls, and the front door mysteriously opens, while from upstairs come the sounds of eerie footsteps and moving furniture. Previously a candle shop, its employees reportedly believed ghosts were to blame.

Not so, says Sara Jean Tosques-Whitman, who has worked weekends for a year in the present Clarence County Store. Not only does she not believe in ghosts, she told me on Memorial Day, May 27, but, having experienced the strange phenomena herself, she can actually explain them.

Take the falling items, for instance. Once when she was refilling a shelf, she saw two small containers (one resting on the other) topple, just as a huge farm harvester drove by, setting up a vibration that dislodged the items. The rumbling of trucks and other large vehicles also loosens nails over time and thus causes pictures to fall too. These effects are naturally more frequent in the summer, when such heavy equipment is often on the road.

Conversely, the front door opens by itself more often in the winter, it being naturally kept closed on cold days. The explanation for the mysterious opening is that the door simply does not shut properly. This is evidenced by a sign placed on the inside of one pane: “Please Close Door Tightly!”

Okay, but how can we possibly explain the sounds of the spooky footsteps and moving furniture? Anyone have a theory? That’s right: people actually live upstairs! This was all told to me with glee by my informant, who insists, “There are very logical explanations for everything.”

She has always been like this. But once, when she was a young girl, she was inadvertently involved in ghostly goings-on at her father’s home, where she stayed on weekends. He had begun to hear the sounds of doors opening or closing, footsteps on the stairs, and other noises. His mother having died, he attributed the strange occurrences to her spirit roaming the house. As it turned out, however, it was little Sara Jean—sleepwalking! Her father obtained the best possible evidence for this when he actually caught her in the act.

Perhaps this early lesson helped shape her into the sensible, rational adult she’s become. Certainly we need more like her!