Discover more from Rat Report
Haunted Stores of New York City
(One of them is a Staples 😖)
While New York City offers a myriad of haunted houses, theaters, and hotels, there are slim pickings when it comes to haunted stores. I found two haunted stores on the internet and decided to investigate both for another Spooktober special.
COS in SOHO
COS is a clothing store on Spring Street with a troubling past.
In 1800, a young carpenter named Levi Weeks was accused of murdering his girlfriend, Elma, and throwing her body down a well. Thus began the infamous Manhattan Well Murder Trial, which was the first documented murder trial in American history.
It was a sort of 19th century O.J. Simpson murder case. It was highly publicized and there was damning evidence that Levi Weeks had indeed murdered Elma; on the night she went missing she told her cousin that she was meeting with Weeks so that the two could get secretly married. A witness also claimed to have seen Weeks measuring the opening of the well the Sunday before she went missing (totally normal behavior).
But through his brother’s connections and wealth Weeks was able to retain New York City’s best lawyers, including none other than the singing and dancing founding father, Alexander Hamilton, and his pal Aaron Burr. Weeks was acquitted in five minutes but was subsequently ostracized by the citizens of New York, prompting him to leave and start a new life in Mississippi, where such behavior was presumably more acceptable.
The trial is referenced in the Hamilton song Non-Stop (linked below), which details the trial in which Hamilton defends the man who clearly murdered his girlfriend and threw her in a well. I imagine Lin-Manual Miranda wrote the song while tucked into Aaron Burr’s bed back at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
So what does this murder trial have to do with a store in SOHO?
The well from which Elma’s body was recovered still exists and is casually situated next to the menswear in the basement of this SOHO clothing store. I took a detour through Spring Street to see the well for myself.
“Excuse me,” I asked an employee. “Did you know that this well is haunted? Have you experienced anything paranormal down here?”
“Uhh, nothing crazy,” responded the employee. “Sometimes the elevator opens by itself?”
So is this store haunted? Unconfirmed, but we know there has been at least one dead body in that well. At the very least they should get somebody out there to take a look at the elevator.
Staples in Gowanus
According to a website on the internet, the Staples in Gowanus was built on top of a mass grave from the Revolutionary War. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the other haunted store in New York City was a Staples. What a letdown.
I couldn’t imagine a more dull and wretched place than Staples. Any shrieks and groans coming from the Staples in Gowanus are more likely to be emitted from miserable customers and employees than from restless spirits. Ghosts from the Revolutionary War probably wander the aisles, between printer paper and batteries, wondering what kind of sorrowful afterlife they’re trapped in and wishing for a second death.
I checked Google reviews for more clues, and found one that confirms my suspicions.
I also found a review about an assault, a “latinx boy with a bowl cut,” a “latinx girl in clown makeup,” and a “latinx manager with a missing or damaged bottom tooth.”
I take my job as a journalist and paranormal investigator very seriously, but I didn’t feel like going all the way to Brooklyn. And I certainly didn’t want to go to Staples. So I just called the store one evening.
“Hello, thank you for calling Staples,” said an employee (who I’m assuming was the young man with the bowl cut) unenthusiastically.
“Hi, I’m a reporter calling from Rat Report,” I answered.
“From where?” he asked.
“Rat Report,” I repeated.
“I’ve never heard of that.”
“Well I was wondering if you’ve seen any spirits or anything paranormal during your time working at Staples,” I asked him.
“Yeah actually, I saw a couple spirits in the back,” he replied.
“What were they doing?” I asked him.
“They were dancing. Bachata.”
“What did they look like?”
“One was about 4 feet tall and one was about 6 feet tall.”
So is the Staples in Gowanus haunted? According to employees, yes, but the Rat Report official investigation is inconclusive because I refuse to set foot in such a godforsaken place.
Get Rat Report delivered directly to your inbox: