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Dropping in to do business . . . Kenmare Drug owner Kim Essler discovered
this mess in his usually tidy store room Sunday morning. A search of
the debris revealed raccoon paw prints and droppings that suggested
the animal entered through a gap in the building's roof and then fell through
the false ceiling. Damage was primarily restricted to the store room.
The bandit had not been captured as of Monday afternoon.
By Caroline Downs
An unruly bandit dropped in on Kenmare Drug late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Kenmare Drug owner Kim Essler and his wife Sandra arrived at the store about 10 am Sunday to continue packing and organizing efforts for the store’s move to its new location next door on the west side square.
However, the couple discovered a shambles of fallen ceiling tiles and other debris when they walked into the back store room, which had been organized for packing purposes.
Initially, Essler assumed a human or two were responsible for the break-in. Closer investigation revealed signs of a four-legged intruder, one that sports a classic black mask.
“We saw some paw prints and tracks on the carpet,” Essler said, “and we discovered some raccoon droppings.”
The raccoon apparently entered through a hole above the store room ceiling, then crashed through six or seven tiles of the false ceiling hung in that portion of the building. Tracks were found on walls and fixtures in the store room, as well as on the carpet just inside the retail area.
Essler said the intruder broke some sheets of glass stacked immediately left of the store room door near the pharmacy counter, and other items were chewed, knocked over or otherwise left in disarray. However, the animal didn’t destroy anything on the sale floor.
“I’m not even sure what that glass was used for,” he continued. “It was not a tremendous dollar loss to the business, but taking care of it all kind of blew the morning.”
The Esslers were concerned the raccoon might still be roaming around the store, so they called Kenmare Police Chief Gary Kraft for assistance. “He checked everything and did a thorough search of the whole building,” said Essler. “He couldn’t locate any more tracks or damage.”
Kraft helped Esslers set up two live traps, and the couple spent the rest of the day packing without any interruption from the snoopy animal. The traps remained empty as of Monday afternoon.
“I’m hoping the industrious critter vacated the same way he came in,” Essler said, adding that he boarded up the hole in the store room’s ceiling that allowed for the raccoon’s first entrance.
New drug store
may open July 1st
In the meantime, operations continue to move merchandise and fixtures from Kenmare Drug up the street into Phase I of the West Side Square revitalization project.
The White Buffalo Soda Fountain has already been hauled to the new store. Employees, friends and family members have carted over wooden shelves and cabinets from the Gift Bank, along with various store supplies. Several employees of Dakota Drug in Garrison, also owned by Essler, and other friends have scheduled a visit to Kenmare for June 24-26 to complete the bulk of the move.
“We’re hoping to be able to be open on a limited basis in the new store on July 1st,” said Essler. “We will have prescription services then and greeting cards, and things like vitamins, cough and cold medicines, pain medication and other over-the-counter health care items should be available.”
Giftware items may take longer to set up and arrange in the new store, and the immediate future for the White Buffalo Soda Fountain remains uncertain.
“I don’t know if the soda fountain will be open that early,” Essler said. “There may have to be some modification of the fixtures and an inspection by the health department.”
Additional plumbing and electrical work also need to be completed in the new location.
The raccoon’s appearance in the old building fueled Essler’s desire to open the new store soon. “We’re hoping we’re good [with efforts to catch the raccoon],” he said, “and all the more anxious to move.”
Clearing out . . . Clearance priced items set in the former
White Buffalo Soda Fountain area of the Kenmare Drug store.
All the soda fountain fixtures have been moved to the new store
location, in the new building immediately north of the old one on
the west side of the downtown Kenmare business square.