Leslie Kueffler towed cars and campers out of the Williston Walmart parking lot on Tuesday and stored them in an impound lot outside of town.
On Thursday, he was giving Curt Sumner, 47, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, a ride to pick up his vehicle from among a couple of dozen that were hooked up and hauled away that day.
The ride was free. The cost to spring his 2006 Nissan: $250.
"I got the money. I gotta do what I gotta do," Sumner said.
Kueffler, owner of Affordable Towing, said he and the other tow business in town towed 25 cars and campers out of the Walmart lot.
"In most cases, these are good enough that they'll come back for 'em within a week. After a while, some of them get crushed or go to the landfill," he said.
Walmart's spokeswoman said the store was willing to help the oil workers caught in a housing shortage, but customers were complaining about men living in cars and campers, litter and safety concerns out in the parking lot.
On Monday - after months of leniency, when an average of 50 campers and occupied cars were parked in the back rows of the large lot - Walmart posted a warning that campers had to be gone in 24 hours. On Tuesday, the tow trucks showed up.
Williston Police Capt. Mindy Degenstein heads up compliance for the department.
She said it didn't take long for Walmart to lose that vagrant-city look that was causing a lot of negative comments.
"It looks great up there. They've been out and cleaning up," Degenstein said. The store now has 24-hour security and anyone pulling trucks or campers in will be moved along much more quickly, she said.
"There weren't any issues when we were up there doing this (enforcing the notice). Everybody understood and knew they'd just best move on," Degenstein said.
Now, she's seeing some of those same cars and campers on other streets in town.
"We're catching up with them again," Degenstein said. They get the standard 48-hour street parking tolerance.
Kueffler said he's seeing the same thing. A conversion van with a smokestack for burning wood inside had been parked at Walmart. After everyone was moved out, he saw it on Thursday parked over behind the car wash.
Degenstein said it's a tough situation because most campgrounds are closed for the season, though she's been making referrals to one in Fairview, Mont., that's open and has vacancies.
Sumner wasn't happy because when Walmart decided to get tough and clear its parking lot of oil workers who were using it as a campground, its posted warning referred to campers only.
"I just can't understand that. I wouldn't have left my car there," Sumner said. He said the only reason he did is because he suddenly got called out to work and couldn't leave the vehicle at Lonnie's Truck Stop, where his truck was parked.
He said he lives in his truck, not his car.