Towards the end of my college career, I found myself attempting to rake in extra cash as an employee of chain drug store Eckerd. It was an easy gig; ring customers up between bites of beef jerky at the front register, occasionally put stuff back on the shelves, try not to piss off the insane ex-cop who managed the store’s photo mat. The specific Eckerd that employed me was located at the corner of Route 46 and Rhinehart Road in Sanford, FL, on the outskirts of the commercial area that surrounded the Seminole Town Center mall. Could one label this area “farm country?” Despite the presence of a Don Pablo’s, a Books-a-Million, AND a Michael’s craft store, yes, you probably could. I offer the small population of goats that lived behind my Eckerd as evidence.
I’m not sure how many goats specifically called that small patch of Sanford land home. At any given time, between two and five goats could be seen grazing there, an area no bigger than your average mid-sized Brooklyn apartment. Every day when we took the trash out at Eckerd, we’d stop and stare at these goats. Who owned them? we wondered. We never saw anyone tending to them or throwing them feed (or whatever goats eat). Sometimes, if the mood was right, we’d bleat at the goats, and they’d return our vocal gesture with their own anguished cries. Perhaps they were just some stray animals forsaken by their previous owner and left to rot in a rapidly developing part of town. Answers were never forthcoming. Then again, we never really “hit the pavement” trying to figure out who these goats belonged to.
I quit Eckerd sometime in 2002, right after it had been purchased by CVS and was in the process of being converted. I waved goodbye to the goats, but they didn’t seem to care that retail guard was changing. Last week, I found myself back in Sanford. Wouldn’t you know it—the goats are still there, behind what is now a twenty-four hour CVS. The “no trespassing” signs affixed to their fence mysteriously list no owner (there’s literally a line to write in the owner’s name, and it was blank). I spoke to two CVS employees about the goats; neither had any clue where they came from or who had legal ownership. Were these goats owned by the city of Sanford? I was so intrigued by this anomaly that I contacted my former manager at Eckerd, David R. Usually up on these kinds of things, David could offer no explanation. He suggested I call city’s property appraisal office. So I did.
As soon as I mentioned the location I was inquiring about to the woman on the phone, she said, “You mean the spot with the goats?” I had to try not to burst out laughing. After a hot minute or two, I got the mailing address of the land’s owner. I will be contacting this person post haste to find out why the goats have spent such a long time in such a small area that is quickly becoming a hellish retail nightmare. Since I quit Eckerd, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and several other huge chains have invaded the area, turning several pieces of undeveloped land not unlike the goats’ area into concrete nightmares fit only for raking in consumer dollars.
How long do the Sanford goats have before they’re forced off their land in favor of a Jamba Juice? Updates as this story develops…