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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Tricks And Treats

Having established itself as the second-biggest commercial holiday of the year, Halloween is looking to take over the entire calendar. In addition to seasonal Halloween shops that pop up around late September, year-round Halloween stores are growing in numbers across the country, particularly in the Valley. Halloween Adventure, a retail chain based in Canoga Park, has seven stores, including three open year-round in Canoga Park, Sherman Oaks and San Bernardino. In the greater Valley, it has seasonal stores in Simi Valley and Camarillo. “We do well in the off-season because we are such a unique store,” said Ryan Goldman, 30, co-owner of Halloween Adventure. “Though the bulk of our business happens in the month of October, we gear our store up for each season.” To appeal to shoppers at other times of the year, Goldman changes his inventory to feature seasonal items. Next month, the store will stock colonial attire and props for the Thanksgiving holiday, and December will bring in a shipment of Santa Claus and elf costumes. Lindsey Dalcher, a hip hop and ballet dance instructor in Woodland Hills, frequents Halloween Adventure to purchase dance costumes and props for the numerous recitals she hosts throughout the year. “The selection at Canoga Park and Sherman Oaks is amazing,” said Dalcher, 32. “Without a year-round costume store to go to I would have to do the bulk of my purchasing online (and) I have had many shipping problems when buying costumes online. The ability to touch and feel the products goes a very long way.” Other year-round Halloween stores in the Valley include three shops in Burbank within walking distance of each other. Halloween Town, owned by husband and wife Wayne Toth and Jackie Ahumada, is located on 2921 W. Magnolia Blvd. and carries general Halloween merchandise. The couples’ other stores, Halloween Town Kids and Halloween Town Costumes focus on the children and costume sectors of the market respectively. In addition, Halloween Town sells horror movie memorabilia and has a gallery filled with dark drawings, shelves of horror books and themed rooms that give the shop a vintage feel. Consistent clientele The National Retail Federation, a trade group in Washington, D.C., estimates consumers will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween this year, a 3.3 percent increase since last year. While the holiday’s popularity is a national trend, the Valley has a leg up because of its adjacency to Hollywood. That’s because the entertainment industry affects consumer preferences, according to Goldman. “Whatever is popular in Hollywood, you’re going to see a positive trend for Halloween costumes,” he said. “We also get a lot of studio people that are filming come to us for stage blood or for Halloween props.” Throughout the year, Halloween Adventures partners with “Let’s Make A Deal” producers who refer the CBS game show contestants to the store to for costumes, according to Goldman. Audience members on the show are encouraged to dress in attention-grabbing outfits in hopes of being noticed by host Wayne Brady and selected to be a contestant. “I would say maybe 25 percent of the costumes that people are wearing came from Halloween Adventure,” said Goldman, referring to the show. “A partnership with ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ is only going to happen when you have a permanent location.” But Neil Stern, senior partner at McMillanDoolittle, a retail consulting firm in Chicago, is not convinced that year-round Halloween stores will become a major retail trend, even with the holiday’s increased popularity. “Credit the growth to clever marketing,” Stern said. “The event has clearly grown beyond its original meaning. Still, it makes seasonal stores very profitable but presents a big challenge for a year-round model.” However, while Goldman declined to divulge his company’s revenue, he said that his year-round locations are doing well both in season and out of season. In his next expansion move, he hopes to turn his seasonal store in Mission Viejo into a permanent one. “We’re always looking to turn pop-ups into year-round,” he said. “It’s all about profitability and sales.” Freaky Friday For Goldman, permanency allows the store to develop consistent suppliers and maintain a massive inventory. The chain’s flagship store at 8443 Canoga Ave. carries about 10,000 costumes and roughly 20,000 masks, wigs and accessories. Prices range from $16.99 to $70.99 for costumes, and $2.99 to $19.99 for masks and accessories, with the exception of several high-priced items. This year, the spookiest holiday on the calendar falls on a Friday, and retailers expect the holiday will occupy several days. “There’s no question that the variety of adult, child and even pet costumes now available has driven the demand and popularity of Halloween among consumers,” National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay said in a statement. “With the holiday falling on a Friday this year, we fully expect there will be a record number of consumers taking to the streets, visiting haunted houses and throwing unforgettable celebrations.”

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