Halloween Stores Become a Pop-Up Phenomenon

Discussion
Oct 30, 2009
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

Capitalizing
on the rash of shuttered storefronts across retail, Halloween-themed stores
are finding more visible and larger locations this year. And with more popping
up across the country, they appear to be scaring up some healthy sales.

Empty
retail space from the closings of Circuit City, Mervyns, Linens ‘N Things and
Home Depot’s Expo Design Center have increased opportunities for all temporary
stores, according to an article by The Associated Press.
But the article also underscored the burgeoning opportunity around Halloween
shops.

Spirit
Halloween, based in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, has just over 700 temporary stores
operating this year. That represents an increase of 100 over last year, including
83 former Circuit City locations.

“The
bigger the storefront, the bigger impression you have on the consumer and that’s
the big plus,” Spirit Halloween’s vice president of operations Tony Detzi told The
Associated Press
.

Other
large chains include Halloween USA, a Michigan-based company with more than
250 temporary stores in the U.S; and Halloween Express, based in Florence,
KY, with more than 200 locations.

Halloween
Adventure, based in Garnet Valley, PA with 50 locations, has increased the
size of its stores to 10,000 square feet this year from 8,000 last year through
better access to real estate.

“It
helps to make the store more shoppable. There’s more floor space to put out
all the product that you want and still have enough elbow room for customers,” explained
Halloween Adventure’s CEO Joe Purifico. If forced to cram costumes into a smaller
store, “the
store becomes a maze,” he said.

Halloween-stores,
which open on or about Sept. 1 and close around Nov. 1, appear to be mostly
corporate-owned although some are run by franchisees. While facing price
competition from bigger boxes, the stores stand out for their selection,
creepy ambience and customer service. Employees often wear costumes while
working.

“The
people that work for us tend to be Halloween enthusiasts,” Heather Golin, director
of corporate communications for Spirit Halloween, told The
Daily Herald
in Illinois. “Working
in our locations during their favorite season is just a lot of fun for them.
You can be creative yourself in just coming up with different ideas of how
to dress up at the store.”

Halloween-retailers
are expected to particularly benefit from the holiday falling on a Saturday
this year. Sales are generally better when that happens, according to Ms. Golin,
because it’s easier on a weekend for adults to host costume parties as well
as take their kids trick or treating.

Discussion Questions:
What do you think of the opportunity around Halloween-themed stores?
What’s driving the apparent expansion and success of these temporary
shops? Are general retailers fully capitalizing on the popularity of
Halloween?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

19 Comments on "Halloween Stores Become a Pop-Up Phenomenon"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
11 years 6 months ago

I am sure there is a saturation point for limited time event stores. But with the growth of Halloween as a big, adult, New-Year’s-Eve-type holiday, I believe they may not grow in store count but the foreseeable future for sales growth…I have to think this is going to be nothing but positive.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
11 years 6 months ago

This is a great business idea and could be expanded to other things. Think about it; you work 3 months and make more revenue than many others do all year. The business plan has to include well-executed marketing but many of these companies get the location practically for nothing, so the cost to do business is minimal. The key is merchandising, customer service, and the experience! This concept could take the place of trade shows. If a retailer is creative, the same thing could be done for spring, Easter, Father’s Day, etc.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 6 months ago

Themed stores have always had a place in the retail landscape. Every mall I go to nowadays has a Halloween and a Christmas store up and running. With the right products and staff, a smaller retailer can take advantage of the reduced buys that the bigger guys are working with. My Costco ran out of costumes and outside decorations weeks ago while the Halloween store at at a nearby mall was still relatively stocked a few days ago. The good thing about this business model is that you can pack up all your stuff and sell it next year since this is all you do.

One merchant I was kibitzing with has a small Christmas store at Yorkdale and that’s all he does from September to January. He stores all his leftover stock at a self-storage. He’s been there for the last 5 years, so he seems to be making a go of it. This year could be strong as consumers look to the holidays to lift their spirits.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
11 years 6 months ago

You know, I’ve often wondered if there isn’t a closer-to-year-round opportunity with these kinds of stores. If they can make money doing full set up and take down for one season, why not replicate that model for other major holidays? Yes, including Christmas, but also Valentine’s Day/Easter for spring and Fourth of July for summer? I know that starts to sound like the vast array of party supply stores, but I think the idea of the whole store embracing the holiday–and it’s not just about the party, but about decorating the house, dressing up, etc, etc–is very different than the seasonal shift you’d see in a party store, which still also has a lot of floor space dedicated to general/birthday parties. Effectively, it would be a whole new store every quarter….

Raymond D. Jones
Guest
Raymond D. Jones
11 years 6 months ago

I think it’s a great idea. We are likely to see more pop-up stores in the future.

After all, what is a pop-up store but a category killer designed around a limited time frame situation?

With all the empty retail space, it seems like pop-ups might be a good idea for other holidays and events.

David Biernbaum
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I’m a huge fan of the Halloween pop-up stores for a number of reasons, including:

1. They occupy store fronts and properties that otherwise are vacant and blighted in strip malls. I noticed that some have moved into former Linens ‘n Things and Circuit City stores.

2. Since they carry a fuller and broader range of seasonal assortment they can help to better serve the customers and also help to stimulate the economy.

3. Convenience and focus.

I’d like to see more “seasonal” types of stores in these empty buildings all year long.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Pop-ups rule. My local Spirit Halloween is enjoying great foot traffic due to its location, a prominent storefront that used to be a Linens ‘N Things. It’s not hard to extrapolate pop-up opportunities for other seasons–for Christmas decorations, for toys, and for back-to-school. I know CIOs who believe strongly in this model and would love to jump in and make it happen. If these enjoy continued success, expect more!

Miracle Wanzo
Guest
Miracle Wanzo
11 years 6 months ago

I’d like to see more “seasonal” types of stores in these empty buildings all year long.

The pop up concept could also be used by specialty retailers to provide proof of concept before investing in permanent retail stores. It would be great if leasing agents were more flexible all around, so that smaller retailers had this option as a standard offering, as opposed to having to negotiate special arrangements. Retail centers can even have designated spaces for this concept, which should keep shoppers coming back, curious to see what kind of retail presence occupies the space next.

Large retailers (100+ stores) are very attractive as tenants but leasing agents should also keep an eye on small businesses that want flexible ways to generate sales traction, or “test market” their retail concept, in that location, before commitment.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Halloween represents a $4.5 to $5.5 billion opportunity for retailers. When the totals are rung up for 2009, the figures are likely to be closer to the lower end.

Consumer plans, based on the September, 2009 Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey (8,500+ Adults, responding September 1 – 8), were planning on:

– Being creative–making more homemade costumes
– Spending less on candy/beverages
– Buying fewer decorations
– Spending on average $56 for Halloween, vs. $66 last year

The younger set–18 to 24–are likely to be the biggest decliners, as they spent over $80 last year.

However, sharp merchants like the ones mentioned in the article will do better than most as they are providing a compelling reason for consumers to stop, browse, and shop on what amounts to the 6th biggest retail holiday.

Taking advantage of retail space availability for seasonal merchants is a smart strategy.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I can just see all of the Christmas merchandise lined up and ready to go into these storefronts next! I wonder what other holidays are big enough to warrant this kind of treatment. I’m not sure Valentine’s or Mother’s Day is quite big enough.

I’ll bet there are other pop-up concepts that could take advantage of the open space. Maybe an Americana store (timed with Memorial Day through July 4th–maybe not out here in SF, but in the red states?)? Maybe a Back-to-School store, coordinated with the supplies checklists of local schools (plus all the backpacks, shoes, etc.)?

Someone let me know if they want an investor in the concept!

James Avilez
Guest
James Avilez
11 years 6 months ago

Halloween stores have been temporary occupants in vacant stores every year by me for the last 20 years.

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
11 years 6 months ago

What was the old town square on market day but a pop-up? What are the hopes of a farmer’s market but a pop-up? Whether they appear like dandelions in spring or crimson leaves in the fall, pop-ups will fill a vacant stall.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
11 years 6 months ago

We will see more pop-up stores in the days ahead–it just makes sense for retail right now. Top of mind, easy to get attention, captures shoppers in the moment–and with good space available, it works right now. Expect to see more within larger stores–can draw shoppers in easily, spirit of fun. For Halloween, it can really simplify the “search” on behalf of busy shoppers.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I’m fine with it…until they start appearing in July.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 6 months ago

Halloween has generally been a pretty frightening thing for retailers. For years, the key was to get in and get out quickly, to avoid drastic clearance prices or packaways.

I’ve seen several of these pop-up Halloween stores this year, and what has struck me first has been how little depth of inventory there was in anything, and how the assortments aren’t really that broad. The stores I saw had partitioned larger spaces, yet still had not come close to filling out the used space.

Clearly the rents are very, very low. For landlords, it’s essentially found money. Still, the bet clearly has been that the customer is there, even for these very modest inventory investments.

It will be interesting to see if these stores are followed by seasonal Christmas stores, stores which in the past have been generally more successful than Halloween stores. That may provide the best indication from afar as to how successful the pop-up Halloween stores were.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
11 years 6 months ago

All I can say is that I am headed to one tonight to buy some last minute items, so that must make me a fan. It is a great time for this use for both the tenants and landlords that need traffic.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 6 months ago

Why aren’t we lauding the obvious king of seasonal pop-up stores, fireworks stands? Restricted from occupying conventional buildings for obvious reasons, they are still the ONLY place to buy things-that-go-boom for one of the most popular holidays of the year. They have no competition but each other.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Pop-up stores for Halloween items makes a lot of sense. The consumer has shown a great interest in the holiday. I see Halloween stores in Hong Kong everywhere, in China too! Don’t forget the growing appeal for adults to dress up and live a fantasy for a day! It’s sexy, funny, and something they won’t do any other time of the year. Halloween is also a great excuse for an adult party if it falls anywhere close to a weekend. This year I’m dressing up as an retained consultant.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 6 months ago

Halloween pop-up stores? A bewitching idea!

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Do you expect the number of Halloween-themed shops to increase or decrease over the next three to five years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...