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Every now and then a headline comes across the wire that’s weird even for Wisconsin. And once in a blue moon, a headline comes across that’s weird even for Walmart.

Such was the case this month when the following gem – “Man arrested for stripping in Wisconsin Walmart while his mom chases dog around store, does karate” – was posted online. It accompanied that rare news story full of so many strange facts it took 16 words to summarize.

The incident took place in Eau Claire, a place known to most as a lovely riverside college town. But even in respectable communities, the local Walmart is the epicenter of bizarre activity. That’s why there’s a website devoted to the People of Walmart.

Someone should alert that site’s administrator to the news that a woman and her son were arrested at an Eau Claire Walmart on a number of charges after causing a disturbance involving her dog. What’s a dog doing in Walmart, you might ask? I might ask what adults wearing pajamas are doing in Walmart, but I’d be forgetting that Walmart is a place apart from logic and good sense, a strange land where anything goes. Especially if it’s a full moon and flat screens are on clearance.

Police arrived at the store to find Lisa Smith, 46, chasing her dog Bo and screaming in the entryway. This is not the “welcome to Walmart” experience the retailer strives to promote by hiring kindly retirees as greeters.

As it turns out, Bo is quite a greeter himself. As he ran up to horrified customers, his owner erratically stuffed store displays into her shopping cart, police reported. Staff asked Smith to leave, giving her an opportunity to create a diversion. As she went to the parking lot and broke out what cops called “karate moves,” Bo grabbed a box of cornbread muffin mix and tried to leave the store.

Both suspects were detained. Bo was taken to the Humane Society without incident, but his owner didn’t go so quietly. As officers arrested Smith, she fought with them and tried to kick out a window in their squad car. She was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and bail jumping.

At this point in our story, you might be asking yourself, what became of the subplot? Did the headline not mention her son taking off his clothes? You are absolutely right. Kudos to all nine of you for displaying such a high level of reading comprehension.

As his mother was preparing to karate chop cops and Bo the wonder dog was attempting to make off with muffin mix, Benny Vann, 25, whose name I swear I am not making up, ran to the back of the store and removed his clothes. As one does at Walmart.

Keep in mind, baring inappropriate levels of skin is nothing new at Walmart. Plumber’s cracks and muffin tops abound. Make one visit to the People of Walmart website and you’ll see that while flat screens may rarely be on clearance, there always seems to be a full moon in every aisle.

Full frontal nudity is pushing it, though, so officers surrounded Vann. By this point he had taken new clothing from the racks, items he had not paid for. He refused to be detained, attempting instead to run over one officer with a scooter.

His escape attempt was no more effective than his mother’s karate moves. Vann was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, disorderly conduct and retail theft.

This was hardly the ending the family foresaw upon embarking on its Walmart outing. One can only surmise that illicit substances may have been in play, which would help explain the man and woman’s behavior and the dog’s case of the munchies.

This story has it all: Crime, violence and nudity. And it could happen at only one place, a Wisconsin Walmart.

Ben Bromley has been named Wisconsin’s top small-town daily newspaper columnist six times. Contact him at

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

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