The Herald Bulletin

October 21, 2013

Scaring up business this fall

Vacant storefronts prove ideal for temporary Halloween businesses

By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — A layer of fog clung to the floor inside Spirit Halloween and swirled across a nearby display of plastic bats and rubber mice.

Spirit Halloween, 4622 S. Scatterfield Road, located near the Kohl’s store, is open for only a few months each year, but the operation of a seasonal business can draw large crowds.

Penny Stout, 33, of Wilkinson, said she stopped at the store to pick up a few items to finish her children’s costumes. She remembers when the store was an Old Navy.

“As long as it is not keeping something from permanently coming here, I’m good with it,” she said of the temporary store.

Darla Couch, Anderson, and Annette Craycraft, Yorktown, were debating the scariness of coiled snakes and white rats at a display in the store. The women, who are Court Appointed Special Advocates, were buying decorations for a Halloween party for foster children.

They said the seasonal store is good for the city.

“I think this store has been fairly popular,” Couch said. “It’s better than the store being vacant. It puts money back into the economy.”

And where there are shoppers — there is money.

In fact, seasonal businesses can generate big money, especially when it comes to Halloween.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend about $6.9 billion this year on costumes, candy and decorations. That number is down about $1 billion from last year’s $8 billion in Halloween sales.

Stephanie Rieger, manager of Spirit Halloween, said the store, which opened on Labor Day weekend, will close Nov. 4.

“Our biggest day is Oct. 26,” she said. “On the weekends we can see upwards of 400 to 500 people in a day. It’s a good bit of chaotic fun.”

Rieger said the average shopper spends about $40, but there are people who will spend more than $500, including animated yard displays and decorations.

The store employs about a dozen people.

“Most of the people who work here are Halloween fanatics,” Rieger said.

When Rieger is ready to close the store, she’ll sell merchandise down to the bare walls.

“All this is brought in from the company,” she said, motioning to the temporary walls and displays. “It takes us three or four days to tear everything down. But we will sell everything, even our cardboard displays.”

Frank Owens, director of municipal development for the City of Anderson, said some businesses come and go so quickly it can be difficult to keep track of them. He said his department is the first stop for operating a temporary business in the city, even if the business is leasing the property from a third party.

“I wish they would stay longer,” Owens said. “I think anytime you have a business, even a temporary one, you have a positive impact.”

Owens said Spirit Halloween is the only temporary holiday store with a city permit. He recently learned of a second Halloween store operating in the 1800 block of North Scatterfield Road that has not received its temporary business permit. Owens said he would be in contact with the owners.

Attempts by The Herald Bulletin to contact the owner of the store on North Scatterfield were unsuccessful.

The fireworks stores that pop up around Anderson are also difficult to track; Owens plans to fix that problem.

“We are going to be redoing our rules for both the fireworks and Halloween temporary businesses,” he said. “I think it’s a policy that needs to be better enforced. We need to make sure we are more stringent, because we need to make sure they are as safe as they can be when they move into their building.”

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

 

Halloween cash According to the National Retail Federation, more than 32 percent of the population will buy their Halloween costume from a retail store. The average amount spent on decorations, costumes and candy for Halloween is $73.03. Source: National Retail Federation