Behind the mask
Local Halloween stores employ marketing strategies
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 23:10
At the beginning of September every year, Halloween retail stores crop up in vacant buildings across town and stay until the first of November.
Seasonal Halloween stores do not magically appear when the winds of fall begin to blow. Many owners of Halloween stores attend a convention every spring to prepare for the fast and furious Halloween season where they analyze trends and marketing strategies and discuss and learn about other necessities for running a store that is only open for six weeks.
Thomas Saving, distinguished professor in the Department of Economics, said Halloween stores have to focus on a very specific strategy.
“It’s just like setting up a tent, which we see a lot of here in College Station,” Saving said. “You rent out a store temporarily for a very specific market.”
The endeavor is a gamble — if an owner of a store pays rent August through October, stocks the shelves and pays employees, he or she is risking a lot of money.
“Halloween products are basically worthless after the holiday,” Saving said. “If the store is in a high traffic area, like on one of the major roads in a town, it has a better likelihood of being successful.”
These seasonal, specialty stores are competitors with big-box retailers that also sell Halloween products. But while Wal-Mart and Target have a big section of Halloween-related items, Halloween stores hone in on costumes and accessories specifically.
Some owners of Halloween retail shops hire realtors in high-traffic areas to find a location for a Halloween store, setting requirements to ensure ample room for both customers and products.
Marilyn Venegas, manager of Spirit Halloween — a seasonal retailer — said more people come in during home football weekends, which brings in more business than usual for the store.
College students are often looking to spend less on costumes, Venegas said. In anticipation of this, she said the store stocked more accessories than more expensive full costumes.
“The most interesting thing about the Halloween store is that you can cater those who like to buy premade costumes or those who like to put their costumes together,” Venegas said. “The latter is more of what we tend to sell.”
Sophomore health major Macy Lynch is dressing up as a hipster Sleeping Beauty. While she plans to find most of her costume in her closet, she did go to a Halloween store for a few items.
“I want to go to a Halloween store for a crown or tutu because it will have more variety than just a normal retail store,” Lynch said.
However, some students won’t even bother with a Halloween store to save a few more dollars.
“I’m going as Sherlock Holmes this year,” said Chase Harris, junior environmental studies major. “I got my costume from thrift shops and borrowing things from friends. I didn’t go to a Halloween store because I love being able to create my own costume. It gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I created it myself.”