WAUSAU- The amazing tale I’m about to tell you requires a bit of history. In short, the Wausau Center Mall, known for its endless free samples of bourbon chicken, exotic meat jerky stores, and the area’s lone Hot Topic store met its end in May of 2021. The witch coven that once staffed the goth apparel haven found themselves seeking employment elsewhere. Fortunately, they secured positions at the nearby Menards, where they now serve as backroom inventory stockers.
“I was disheartened to swap out my fleet of Korn and Slipknot t-shirts for a blue Menards vest and khakis. Still, I’m grateful to continue practicing witchcraft with my coven,” shared 3rd shift Menards Inventory Manager and Coven High Priestess, Stephanie Sowinski. “We may no longer be peddling studded belts to goth kids, but we’ve found time to cast spells during our lunch breaks in the backroom of Wausau Menards.”
Sowinski excitedly revealed that, during a recent solar eclipse with the new moon aligning near Mercury, the coven planned to perform an enchantment over a heap of discounted cabinets and paint brushes from the 1988 Summer Sale. This reporter was fortunate to witness the spectacle as each coven member used a recently discounted pair of gardening shears to draw blood from their palms, joined in hands, they began their incantation:
“Witches unite, our spell’s unfurled,
Bring Ray Szmanda back to our world!
From aisles and plaid shirts of yore,
Resurrect Ray forevermore!
With the moon and Mercury’s gleam,
Ray’s return is now our dream.
In saws and shelves, we set him free,
Menard’s spokesman, back he’ll be!”
The outcome was bewildering as it was astounding. The store’s fluorescent lights flickered, the Menards jingle slowed to a demonic pace and the pile of flaming cabinets and brushes trembled. As if emerging from an elevator that never existed before, a ghostly figure of Szmanda materialized in a spectacular display of unbridled positivity, announcing, “Discover Home Improvement Values at Menards!” This reporter was left flabbergasted.
Upon Szmanda’s return, the store’s general manager recognized the potential of having an undead spokesperson and promptly assigned him to work. With the title of “Spectral Sales Advisor,” his mission being bringing a supernatural charm to the shopping experience.
Clad in his trademark plaid shirt, grey hair, and glasses, Szmanda floated the store, gravitating towards the power tools section, where he would passionately whisper “Save Big Money” to unsuspecting customers, often leaving them puzzled as price tags magically halved with inexplainable ghostly discounts.
Shopper Sarah Jenkins recounted her extraordinary encounter: “I was picking a shade of blue for my living room, and suddenly, a can of ‘Sky Blue’ floated into my hands. It was as though the color chose me!”
Local contractor Dave King also had a unique experience: “While in the lumber section, two pieces of oak started glowing and harmonized to announce a special discount for Menard’s Haunted Halloween Sale.”
Regrettably, the encounter turned eerie when Szmanda reached the self-checkout station. In a furious outburst, the ghostly figure’s power tore the lighting fixtures from the ceilings and shelves, leaving a trail of shattered lights before evaporating into a mist of discounted spray paint.
At this juncture, Old Farmer Greg, who had witnessed the supernatural spectacle alongside me, offered a cryptic observation: “The person you put up there ain’t the person that comes back. It may look like that person, but it ain’t that person. ‘Cause… whatever lives in the ground beyond the Kitchen displays ain’t human at all… Sometimes, dead is better.”