reWorking Michigan: Pop Up stores cashing in on Halloween sales
By Gretchen Millich, WKAR News
LANSING, MI – http://wkar.org/images/library/programs/REWMI-120.jpg
ReWorking Michigan examines our evolving economy, as citizens of the Great Lakes State explore new ways to make a living and build a future for their families.
Here, reWorking Michigan looks at pop-up stores and how they're cashing in on Halloween sales. | SKIP down to article
This time of year, pop up Halloween stores magically appear. They're open for two months, and then they're gone. For the sixth year in a row, a Spirit Halloween store has moved into a vacant storefront at the Eastwood Towne Center. It's packed from floor to ceiling with costumes, accessories and displays.
"We have stores coast to coast and in Canada," says Tom Frame, district sales manager for Spirit Halloween. "There's about a thousand stores that we occupy this time of year, selling nothing but Halloween goods for the customers to come in, whether it's children, men, women, or decorations for your house and all the ingredients that would go with those."
"I tried on the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and a sailor costume," says Alexis Campos, a teenager looking for a costume for a Halloween party. "I think I like them both, but I kind of like the colors better on the Mad Hatter. It's like more bright. It has more to it."
She decides to look around a little more, to make sure she gets exactly what she wants.
"I mean, it's the time of the year when you can get dressed up and be creative and be who you want," says Campos. "So, I like doing it a lot."
Tom Frame says this storefront is smaller than most other Spirit Halloween stores, but he says it's a great location, because it draws customers like Campos.
"Oh, yes," says Frame. "I have Victoria's Secret on one side of me and Forever 21 on the other side of me. The guests that I get in here are the young ladies, and they like costumes. Guys, they just need a mask, OK? But the ladies, they want a full costume. They want the shoes, they want the net stockings, they want the petticoat. They're great customers."
Recession? Not here
If there's a recession going on, it's not happening in the Halloween business. This year, Spirit Halloween added about 150 new stores. A survey by the National Retail Federation says more people will be celebrating the holiday this year, and they'll be spending a little more, too, close to $7 billion.
"If we just take a very rough guess at Michigan, which is a little over 3 per cent usually of national retail sales, that's about $210 million, just at Halloween," says Tom Scott of the Michigan Retailers Association. "So, that's a significant chunk of change."
Scott says there is concern about pop-ups among brick and mortar stores, who have a more permanent investment in the community. But he says pop-ups have become an accepted fact for retailers, who are used to a lot of competition.
"Under the circumstances, two or three months is better than nothing for a full year," says Scott.
Neither Pop-Up nor Big Box
There's one local shop the pop ups can't compete with. The non-profit Lansing Civic Players have thousands of theater-quality costumes for rent, from court jester outfits with tights to Mad Men style vintage suits and dresses.
Laura Croff manages the costume shop. She's fitting Lyle Kissee with a Napoleon costume.
"The costume includes all of the accessories, all of the pieces, everything but shoes," says Croff. "So the hat, and he's got a sword, socks, shoe buckles to make his shoes look like period shoes. Do you want to try the sideways Napoleonic hat?"
"You don't get this at Halloween USA," says Kissee. "And it fits."
A Crazy Time
The crazy time begins this week, says Tom Frame at Spirit Halloween. People look at the calendar and realize that Halloween is just a week away.
"We do an awful lot of business when it finally kicks into people's heads," says Frame. "I've got a party to go to, or I've got to dress up, or I've got to take Johnny trick or treating, and we haven't got the outfit."
After that busy week, Frame packs up all the merchandise and goes home. Then look for the Christmas pop-up stores to appear.
For more on job creation and workforce evolution in Michigan, visit WKAR.org/reworkingmichigan