Halloween is my favorite holiday, it always has been.
Part of the lead up to Halloween of course involves not only costume shopping, but generally trolling (hah) among halloween stores to see what beauties they’ve come up with this year. I choose to pretend the travesty of inflatable decorations do not exist, but otherwise, most Halloween decorations can’t be to cheesily spooky for my taste. Motion activated hand in a bowl, fake flaming cauldrons, strobe lights, it’s ALL good.
You can usually get a good dose of Halloween gloom at craft stores and fabric stores. Novelty stores like Hot Topic, Spencers, and their smaller counterparts are always good for some unique creepy items. Of course the big box stores like Walmart and Target usually dedicate a decent sized section to “seasonal” items.
For the most pleasantly overwhelming experience though, the best source is a dedicated Halloween store. The quality of these stores varies, but you’re pretty much assured to be surrounded by grey, black and orange props, often extensively enough to spend hours giggling over fake corpses and daggers.
Even in the “higher end” versions of these stores you’ll be hard pressed to find anything not made of plastic, they tend not to have anything particularly fine, but that’s really not the point. While a store full of Christmas decorations can probably cause a tinsel seisure, oversaturation of Halloween decorations just produces little kid giddiness.
I’m always curious about these stores though. In recent years they’re HUGE, the size of a Best Buy or a Target, because often they’re in a building that used to BE a Best Buy or a Target. Often the very same shelves that previously held decorative pumpkin scented candles, now hold… decorative pumpkin scented candles.
You don’t find this sort of retail recycling for any other holiday or event. Halloween stores are almost universally in previously empty buildings whose previous residents went out of business anywhere from 6 months to 6 years ago. Then on November 1st they’re gone without a trace like Mr. Elvis’s Magic Shop, leaving the boarded up shell in their wake.
As much as I love these stores, I find this a little disconcerting. It seems like these stores rely on a failing economy for their existence. I’m not trying to make some political statement, revealing Halloween stores as soulless opportunists, it just seems weird. It is, appropriately, creepy.
Where are the stores when there is not an abundance of empty buildings? Living in the Steel Belt, it’s hard to imagine this being a problem. I can’t see Halloween stores having a hard time finding a spot any time soon. But what happens on the highly hypothetical day that Cleveland’s economy explodes? Do these stores just disappear?
I don’t think so. I think they find a place where there was no space before. On a previously empty wall, a door glowing at the edges with evil smelling fake fog. A construction site completed overnight, then bulldozed again next month. Maybe a derelict house on the corner turns on a neon sign and starts selling ghosts. You follow a black cat and realize you’re lost in a part of town you’ve never seen before, and that you’ll never find again.
How else COULD it be? It’s Halloween.