Where Panties and the Paranomal Meet: The Story of the Haunted Lingerie Store

by:   |   Oct 30 2015

The Case of the Haunted Lingerie Store

In the mid-2000s, our Anonymous Friend managed a retail store, a branch of a notorious lingerie brand. The difference between this store and any other purveyor of date-night undies was a ghost. Or three. We interviewed her to find out how she made it out (mostly) unscathed.

GAL: So how did the creepy stuff start?

Anonymous Friend: The odd activity began almost immediately after I started working there, even though I didn’t associate it with paranormal activity at the time. I’d come in before the store opened to do things like schedule-writing, planning the day, stuff like that. The manager’s desk was off the sales floor in the stockroom. I’d leave the door open and I’d always hear the sound of hangers being shifted, as though someone was browsing through them. I’d go out to confirm that I was, in fact, alone in the store. After a couple weeks of this, I started getting annoyed. The air conditioner didn’t turn on until the store opened, so there wasn’t a breeze. The escalators didn’t turn on until the mall opened, so it wasn’t floor vibrations. There was no loud music playing from an adjacent store. I couldn’t find a logical explanation for it, even though I always tried.

GAL: And then it escalated, and other coworkers noticed it, right?

Anonymous Friend: It did escalate, but I wasn’t aware of anyone else having similar experiences for quite a few months.

The store had a few dozen recessed lights in the ceiling and some larger spotlights—the kind with the bulbs that should only burn out MAYBE a couple times a year. They started burning out regularly, sometimes 3-4 a day. I didn’t connect this to the hangers, and instead tried to tackle it as a maintenance issue. We had the mall maintenance people check, we had the power company out to look for surges, we had a company maintenance person come, and they all said the same thing: The lighting system was fine. There was no reason for all of the burn-outs. It was still some time before I knew my staff was having experiences—closer to fall, when we had an all-store meeting. Someone made a joke about “the ghost” and we all sort of nervously began opening up about things we’d been experiencing. As it turned out, all of us had something weird happen, although we hadn’t told one another.

GAL: Is this when you found the secret passage? (I have always wanted to say that.)

Anonymous Friend: Hahah, no, that was quite a while later. But that was really creepy. There was an emergency exit door at the end of the hallway that housed our fitting rooms. We all assumed it went out to the parking lot. I think this happened during an overnight inventory, since the alarm didn’t go off, but one night someone accidentally bumped it open, and instead of opening to an actual exit, it opened to this narrow storage room. It was filled with discarded fixtures, trash, a rotting blanket, stuff like that. It smelled so horrible that we didn’t go in there. It was like a cross between rotting meat and vinegar.

I asked the mall managers about it, since it effectively meant we didn’t really have an emergency exit. This was a rumor, but the person I spoke to told me that a homeless man used to camp out in there and died. I have no proof of that, but we did see things that would indicate someone had lived in there.

GAL: That sounds like prime haunting real estate. Now, are you feeling at this point like you don’t want to be alone in the store?

Anonymous Friend: Yeah, we all were. I felt badly for my team—they were all really smart, sensitive young women and I wanted to respect how they were feeling. I wasn’t convinced it was supernatural at this point, but I knew that there were unexplained things going on. If there were tasks that needed to be done alone in the store, I tried to take most of them. Especially since the activity was ramping up.

GAL: But that’s when you really did start to believe there was a presence or PRESENCES there?

Skel1

Anonymous Friend: On several occasions, I heard the distinct sound of someone running up and down the hallway outside the office. This would happen when I was alone in the store with the front doors locked. We were on the top floor of the mall, so it wasn’t like it was someone running laps above us. The other girls heard this too, and on a few occasions I felt the sensation of something running past me.

But I have to say—and I know how dumb this sounds—I just kept trying to find a logical explanation. But at a certain point, I think I just accepted what was going on, even if I didn’t admit it. That was probably when the voices started. I don’t remember how many times this happened, but we’d hear a voice say “HEY!” or “MA’AM” and the store would be empty. I think that was the catalyst for my assistant manager asking to perform a clearing—she was a Wicca practitioner and thought she could help.

GAL: Did your Wicca ritual work? And if not what else did you try?

Anonymous Friend: If by “worked,” you mean “unleashed a whole new level of activity,” then yeah. It worked perfectly. This is not to disparage her or the craft. She honestly did what she thought was best. But whatever presences were in the store, they didn’t like it. That was around the time the activity took a turn for the more malevolent. We also began to have customers notice. One day a woman and her boyfriend were shopping. She was a few feet away and he and I were talking by the register. I see her swing her arm around to swat something behind her. She shouted “Stop it!” And when she swiveled around, her face fell. She said that someone had been touching her. Customers also told us that they felt like someone was watching them in the fitting rooms. And these complaints? They were pretty frequent.

GAL: The lingerie store is the last place you want anyone, malevolent spirit or not, watching you try stuff on.

Anonymous Friend: I don’t really know how to explain this other than a feeling, but as the activity grew more intense, we began to identify three distinct presences: one was this sort of playful/mischievous one, the thing that grabbed customers and hid pens. A second was this sad, oppressive feeling that lingered in the back corner of the store. That area was fucking FREEZING, to the point where I turned off the A/C vent over it. The third one…that one was actually evil. I know how that sounds, its like some cliché movie, but it was. And that presence was the reason I contacted a paranormal investigator.

GAL: How do you even find one of those? And was this person anything like Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist?

Anonymous Friend: No, she wasn’t anywhere near that cool. I just Googled and found a paranormal research group in my city. I sent them an email about what was going on, and one of their investigators said she’d come out. She wasn’t helpful at all. We were all uncomfortable with her, and although she said that felt a “dark presence,” she didn’t offer us any help. And honestly, after she left, things got even worse.

GAL: Did this third-rate Zelda charge you for her expert opinion? And what happened after she left?

Anonymous Friend: She didn’t charge us, and she did seem like she was genuinely interested, but she had nothing to offer.  After she left, things got much worse. My co-workers started talking about a man they called Harry. He’d would appear in the store, wearing a suit if I remember correctly, and appear to shop. Once approached, he would disappear. I never saw him, but I believed my team. The other thing that happened after she left was that the presence in the stockroom got even more angry.

GAL: Oooh, tell more. So in the stockroom was like, boxes full of crotchless panties and Merry Widows and demi-cup bras? And was that the really scary area?

Anonymous Friend: It was for me, at least. I remember one of the scariest things that happened in my time there happened in the stockroom.

The door had a keypad entry and if someone was beeping in, it echoed through the stockroom, making it very obvious if someone was coming in. We had received 10 or so boxes of shipment that day, and I was in the backroom unpacking them while my co-worker was on the floor helping a customer. I paused to use the restroom and was in there for maybe 2-3 minutes. During that time, no one entered the stockroom—I would’ve heard it. When I was finished, I went to open the bathroom door and it wouldn’t move. I pushed and pushed until I finally got it open. When I saw what had happened, I almost cried. All of the boxes had been pushed in front of the door. When I’d gone in the bathroom, they were around 5-6 feet away.

I immediately ran out onto the floor and saw that my co-worker was still helping a customer. I asked her if she or anyone had gone in the back, but I already knew that no one had. I went back into the stockroom and said something like, “Please stop doing this. I work here and I have to be here. You can’t bully or scare me anymore.” I remember going home that night and telling my boyfriend about it, and I guess now that I say it here, that was probably the first time I truly acknowledged and believed what was going on. It just felt dangerous all of a sudden, you know?

skel2

GAL: YOU TALKED TO THE GHOST!? You ghost whispered! Did it listen to you?

Anonymous Friend: No.

GAL: Shit.

Anonymous Friend: You know what happened after that? We started having fixtures come out of our walls. This sounds so ridiculous and dramatic, but it’s true.

GAL: Like flying out?

Anonymous Friend: On our store walls, we had these slide-in arms that we hung product on. They were very sturdy and difficult to remove from the wall. I remember a half dozen or so times where those would pop off the walls without anyone being near them. And, for those of you trying to explain this logically, like I was—no, the walls weren’t swollen. There was no thumping music next door. They weren’t even in the same location, just random spots all over the store. These things were being popped out. So now to recap: hanger noises in the mornings, light bulbs still always burning out, sounds of running, things going missing, disembodied voices trying to get our attention, a cold spot, customers feeling creeped out and now the unreliable fixtures. Believe it or not, I lasted another few months.

GAL: It must have been a sweet discount.

Anonymous Friend: It was, and apart from the scary stuff, I loved working there. The people I worked with were, and still are, wonderful. We internalized and laughed off a lot of this stuff—I mean, what else could we do? In a weird way, I felt like I was in an unhealthy relationship. I’d go to this place every day because I didn’t want to quit, but I was scared while I was there, and I was living with that fear, and feeling crazy on top of it, because this shit isn’t supposed to be real. And some days, nothing would happen. Those were the worst, because it was like a taste of what a normal job would feel like. But then it would start up again.

GAL: So what was the final straw? Or strap?

Anonymous Friend: The final straw was, to date, the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.

I went in one morning to do my usual paperwork. I was sitting at the desk and I heard the hangers moving. Like always, I got up to check. There was no one in the store and the doors were locked. As I was heading back to the stockroom, I noticed that the light in the middle fitting room was burned out. I grabbed a bulb and went in to change it. The light fixtures had these fake vintage glass globes over them that you had to slide off to get to the bulb. So, I slid it up and I heard this sound right by my ear…this gasp. A sharp intake of breath, like, is she going to drop it? I started shaking, like actually shaking, and replaced the globe. I stepped out of the fitting room and the door slammed shut so hard that it broke the hinges. So I took off running. I grabbed my bag and hauled ass out of the store. As I exited, I noticed that the manager of the store next to me was also running out of her store. I asked her what happened, and she said her lights had just gone out. We stood there talking—I had my back to the store and she was facing it. And then she stopped talking and her mouth hung open as her gaze fixated on a point behind me. She pointed. “Look,” she said. I turned to see what she was staring at and noticed immediately. We had these X-shaped fixtures that our bras were stocked on. On top of each was a 8½ x 11 plexi sign holder. These things were magnet-attached to the fixture. They didn’t move.

On this tower, the plexi sign was flopping back and forth, like someone had lifted it up and was fanning themselves with it. But no one was touching it. I sat on the bench and waited for my co-worker to arrive. And then I quit shortly after.

GAL: Any job has to seem good after that. Except paranormal investigation. Also, did you ever look up to see if anyone had died there?

Anonymous Friend: You know how in movies where people find those records of every terrible thing that ever happened to a piece of land? Those don’t exist. I tried.

skel3

GAL: Hahhaha! TO THE MICROFILM!

Anonymous Friend: The only thing I ever heard was from a woman that had lived in the area for a long time, but I don’t know how true this is. She said that when the mall was being built, kids would drag race on the asphalt.

GAL: That sounds very Rebel Without a Cause.

Anonymous Friend: Anyway, she said that she remembered someone dying in a car accident, but I have no idea.

GAL: An eternity roaming a mall is probably not a fate anyone deserves.

 

We’d like to thank our Anonymous Friend for sharing her story. What about you guys? Ever have a haunted workplace? Ghouls at the Pinkberry? Uneasy presences at the 5-7-9? We want to hear about it! Comment or email us with your story.

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Julai Whipple
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