In a recent article about a haunting at a Portland university, I made a joke about how hosts only haunt history, citing the example that you never hear stories of something modern like a supermarket being the center of spectral activity. A little bit of research later, it turns out that I was dead wrong. Kind readers, it’s time to sit back and hear the tale of the haunted Save Mart of Chowchilla, California.
Chowchilla is a small city nestled in central California between Fresno and Merced, and it has a bit of a weird history. Home to two separate prisons (the Valley State Prison and the Central California Women’s Facility), the town is literally named after a Native American word for “murderers.” It’s also the birthplace of Henry Farrell, author of the deranged cult classic WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? It’s the perfect place for this kind of macabre legend to build up over the years.
Now, something very strange happened when I fist started to research today’s topic. I began to notice certain conflicting details in the stories of a haunting at a Save Mart Supermarket. This kind of inconsistency is normal when you’re researching paranormal events, as these stories tend to be spread through word of mouth, but these particular details seemed too far apart to make sense.
That’s when I noticed something that clarified everything: there are two haunted Save Marts in Chowchilla, California. I don’t know whether the city is built over a Hellmouth, the local spirits are just hungry, or if they’re trying to spite me for doubting that a grocery store could be haunted, but it’s true.
Here is the story of Haunted Save Mart the First: Located on the quiet Avenue 26, employees often felt the serenity of the area broken by a watchful presence. A female employee felt the heat of an invisible stare on her back when she was restocking the shelves late at night, and frequently felt someone following her as she walked to the break room. A male employee who worked the day shift didn’t notice anything in the store itself, but always felt a little uneasy when he went into the break room. He could feel eyes tracking his every move.
This activity in what sounds like the most stressful break room in history would seem to indicate that whatever spirit inhabited the area only came out at night, something which was proven in 2008, when the store closed and a new Save Mart opened on Robertson Avenue. After midnight, shadowy figures would appear behind the darkened windows of the abandoned building, accompanied by whispering voices.
A local woman even called the police, thinking vandals had broken in. But when the authorities arrived, they didn’t find a thing out of place. Whatever haunted that Save Mart lives on, emerging nocturnally for God knows what purpose. The worst part is, this isn’t event the scariest half of our story.
Remember that new Save Mart over on Robertson? The company must be cursed, because they also developed a ghost problem. And their spirit wasn’t content to just hang around in the background…
No, this ghost loves to show his face. And what a face it is! He’s frequently referred to as “the Clawed Man,” although the more romantically minded locals have dubbed him “Freddy Krueger’s Whetstone.” He’s received this darling nickname thanks to the long bloody gashes across his face, the claw marks of whatever delivered him off our earthly plane.
This particular specter also prefers to appear in the middle of the night, sometimes appearing in brief glimpses on the security cameras, sometimes showing his twisted, bloody mug in person to people browsing the frozen foods section.
The way people can tell he’s dead and not just some poor victim in need of assistance is a strange quality about his wounds: they don’t bleed. The wet, red flesh just sits there, without a single drop of blood flowing out. Then he opens his mouth, unleashing the putrid stench of rotten meat upon his startled victims.
They say not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, but even if you do, this ghoul is bound to kill your appetite. He’s just one more reason not to stop and pick up milk along your commute through Chowchilla.