What happened to me in the craft store last night could’ve happened in any store any where. It was truly terrifying, and I will forever be more cautious when I shop alone anywhere.
Here’s what happened.
I was shopping at Joann’s looking for yarn and projects for Christmas presents. Like I need more yarn or patterns!
As I was browsing, a young man with a bleached Mohawk, crazy jacket and strange assortment of bags comes up to me saying that he is from out of town and is turned around in the store. He wants my help finding his way to the exit.
At first, I nicely point him in the direction of the store front. When he asks me to walk with him to help make sure he finds it, I refuse noticing that another man is watching us from the end of the aisle. He is tall, with basketball shorts and a baseball hat.
I don’t mean to stereotype, but neither of these guys are the typical yarn shoppers at Joann’s. Usually, there is another harried mom like me and a few older women.
When the first man asks me one more time to help him find his way through the store, my suspicions are confirmed. Something is up here. And as he walks away, I see the other man move from the end of the row. A few minutes later, he comes up behind me and picks up a knitting book to leaf through.
And I get that feeling. You know that one where the back of your neck gets warm, and you get goose bumps, and you know that this is a bad situation. So I calmly move to another aisle. The man follows me to that aisle.
That does it for me. I am on my cell calling the store manager and requesting that they check it out. The man moves out of the aisle. But as I approach the registers, I see both men standing just outside the entrance. When they see me notice them, they quickly move away.
I ask the Joann’s cashier to watch over me as I walk to my car, which she agrees to immediately. She explains that something similar happened to her once while shopping alone.
I am so glad she followed me. The two men were sitting in a large white cargo van in the parking lot. The woman got on her radio and asked for a manager, who quickly called the police. When I left the store, the men were still in the van and the police were on the way.
I have no idea what happened to them. They could’ve truly had an interest in yarn, but probably not. And I couldn’t take that risk. I had to follow my instincts. And I believe, I am alive and safely home today because of it.
More importantly, I have to say a huge thank you to the staff at the Joann’s store. They never questioned my concerns. They responded immediately and with a calm nature that made me feel safe. I appreciate their quick action and unwavering support.