Locked in and no way out at Vandal’s
It started as a Fourth of July shopper’s nightmare for an area woman at Vandal’s Family Market in Blooming Prairie, but it quickly ended on a positive note.
An elderly woman, who had walked to Vandal’s from her near-by residence on the Fourth of July around 2 p.m., suddenly found only herself in the store and locked in with no way out.
Getting a little impatient to get to the Fourth of July parade route around 2 p.m., owner Brandy Vandal Homberg left the store at 2:03 p.m. and locked everything up. They previously had announced the store would be closed from 2-4 p.m. during the parade. Vandal’s has a float in the annual parade.
“It was panic time,” Vandal Homberg said. “We can’t stay open any longer. We were just rushing, freaking out and didn’t turn out the lights because we were coming back.”
She said she visually scanned the lot and noted no vehicles or bicycles anywhere.
Vandal Homberg took off for the parade route near the high school with candy in hand for their float.
Back the store, the woman was finishing her rounds of shopping when she discovered a sinking feeling—no one was in the store and she was locked in. And to make matters worse, she had left her cell phone at home.
During her captivity in the store, the woman even put her ice cream back in the freezer so it wouldn’t melt.
After about 20 minutes in the store, the woman attracted the attention of somebody outside the store, who then called police. A short time later Blooming Prairie Police arrived and found a way to rescue the woman through the back of the store.
Much to her surprise, Vandal Homberg learned from the city’s police chief at the parade that the police had rescued a shopper from their store. “I couldn’t believe it,” Vandal Homberg said. “This has never happened before.”
Vandal Homberg was a bit relieved once she found out who it was. The woman frequently shops at the store. “Thank God it was a regular customer,” she said. “She is very quiet, short and slow,” she noted as to the reason it may have been easy to miss her when they were locking up.
They were even more relieved upon learning that the woman did not plan to go to the parade.
Said Vandal Homberg: “She is really sweet. She is a perfect candidate to have locked in the store. What a blessing it was that lady.”
Owner Brady Homberg tried to comfort the woman as much as possible. “I told her that it must have been scary for her,” he said. Vandal’s offered her free groceries for her brief lock-up inside the store. “It’s the least we can do,” he added.
The woman told Homberg that she learned a lesson from this ordeal. She’s never going to leave home again without her cell phone.
Police told the lady they couldn’t think of a better place to be locked in than a grocery store where there is food and refreshments. With a serious face, the woman responded: “But officer, I would never take anything from them.”
Vandal Homberg joked about how she is never going to be responsible for closing the store again. And if she does, well, “We’re going to announce five times we’re closing,” she said with a chuckle.
Police said it’s one of those calls that they’ll remember for quite some time.