ANDERSON — Each fall, Halloween stores seem to pop up just as people are starting to think about Halloween, or even earlier now for some.
Spirit Halloween, located at the Applewood Center on South Scatterfield Road in Anderson, opened on Aug. 18 this year. Store manager Stephanie Riner said even though this is the earliest they’ve opened, the store will be open even earlier next year.
“People are starting earlier and earlier to prepare and to decorate,” Riner said. “From a profitability standpoint, the longer you’re open, the more readily available you are.”
The National Retail Federation’s annual survey about spending shows people are actually starting earlier than they have in the past. About 34 percent of consumers start their Halloween shopping before Oct. 1, according to the survey.
“People shouldn’t be too surprised when they see Halloween candy and decorations available in stores as early as September 1st,” Prosper Insights principal analyst Pam Goodfellow said in the NRF press release. “Given that more than a third of Americans enjoy taking advantage of early-bird deals to kick off their fall celebrations, it seems there’s plenty of appetite among consumers to enjoy a perfectly frightful Halloween.”
According to NRF, more than 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year.
For these pop-up Halloween stores, it’s about staying with the latest trends, regardless of if it’s how early they open to what costumes they offer to animatronic displays for decoration.
Riner said they have a lot of families who come back every year.
“They are coming by while we are setting up and we see them in our windows,” she said. “The first day that we open, they are like, ‘We’ve been waiting for you to be open. Why can’t you be open year-round?’”
Customer Summer Back said she looks forward to seeing the pop-up stores each year, especially since her 5-year-old daughter, Kilynn Fights, gets excited.
“We like to see what they have in the store to see if it is different or exciting,” Back said.
Spirit Halloween is a national chain that has more than 1,150 pop-up Halloween stores across the country.
The location in Anderson has been in the Applewood Center in Anderson for two years. For at least two years before that, the store was in the closed Old Navy location.
Riner said Spirit Halloween is looking for a new location in Anderson for next season because the store would like more space. She said the company will begin looking for new locations as early as spring.
Regardless of location, the staff of about eight Spirit Halloween veterans will have no problem setting up the store next season. Riner said she gets a book specifying the set-up based on the amount of square footage, making it easy to adjust to new spaces.
Once the store becomes more busy as October approaches, Riner hires more people to meet the demand. She said she recently hired four new employees, but she’s looking to hire more soon.
Total, about 20 people will contribute to serving Anderson’s Spirit Halloween store this year.
The staff are trained how to handle merchandise and serve customers. A lot of people will go to Halloween stores to check out merchandise before buying.
Riner said that is just fine with her and her staff.
“That’s part of it. Come in. See what we have,” she said. “You may not purchase this time, but you’re going to get the same experience whether you’re buying or not.”
For Back and Kilynn, looking is part of the planning.
“She can sometimes come up with better ideas than we can,” she said.
Many of the popular costumes this year reflect popular movies and television shows, Riner said. Some of the most popular at Spirit are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Star Wars, American Horror Story, Descendants, Disney princesses, Maleficent and other Disney movies.
Everyday hero costumes, such as firefighters and police officers, are popular as well, she said.
Another trend Riner has noticed is families or groups coming in to all get costumes from one of these movies or TV shows, such as a family of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or mother and daughter pairs of Disney princesses.
Riner said the new costumes each year are part of what makes Halloween a fun holiday.
“Anytime you have a chance to dress up, to be somebody else for the day, it’s an amazing holiday,” she said.