The Spirit Halloween I visited had a huge selection, a fun atmosphere, and an expertly designed store.
Although Party City was cheaper, it had a smaller selection and a strange store design.
With Halloween around the corner, I knew it was time to start thinking about my costume and decorations, so I decided to explore Party City and Spirit Halloween.
Although I'm not ready to settle on a Halloween costume just yet, I decided to window shop and explore the two Halloween stores near my apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
The first store was Party City, which has over 850 locations across the US and specializes in party decorations. Each fall, the company transforms the majority of its stores into a Halloween destination, filled with hundreds of costume options.
Strangely enough, the competitors are located next to each other in Brooklyn, New York.
I was surprised to find that the stores operate right next to each other, but I realized it would make it easy to compare the two back to back.
I went into Spirit Halloween first and was immediately greeted by a full-scale decoration display.
As I walked by the display, a giant, fake spider popped out and scared me. At that moment, I knew this wasn't going to be a normal shopping experience; it felt more like a haunted house than a retail store.
I was impressed with the massive size of the store.
Since Spirit Halloween is a seasonal retail business, they don't have set locations. The stores just take over any empty and available space. That means the stores are usually bare-bones with harsh lighting, exposed beams, and concrete floors.
Behind the giant display in the center of the store, there was a large section for Halloween decorations.
The store sold skeletons of various sizes, fuzzy spiders, plastic chains, and creepy doormats. These decorations ranged in price from $50 to $200 depending on size and quality.
I then headed straight to the section labeled adult costumes.
This section had many of the classic costumes, like vampires, nurses, witches, doctors, and skeletons. There were more creative ones like something called an "Ancient Reaper" or "Sergeant Short Pants."
The various costumes served as inspiration for what I could be this year on Halloween.
I especially liked how there were multiple options for one costume.
For a nurse, there wasn't just one costume to choose from. Instead, there were three at different price points, ranging from $30 and $50.
I also liked how the costumes were hanging in their bags, so they were easy to grab and go. I didn't have to talk to anyone to see if a costume was available.
The store also had separate sections for children.
The "Infants and Toddlers" section had cute costumes ranging from $30 to $50.
Spirit Halloween also clearly highlights certain sections with themes.
There was a section called "Ancient Empires," which had gladiator-like costumes. There were other sections like the '70s and characters from the "Harley Quinn" series.
I then headed over to the large wig and mask corner.
The wigs and masks cost between $12 and $40 depending on the quality. Spirit Halloween had separate sections for prosthetics, makeup, and accessories.
After leaving Spirit Halloween, I walked just a few steps and headed into the very different world of Party City.
When I walked in, I immediately noticed how different the vibe was compared to Spirit Halloween. Instead of feeling like I stepped inside a haunted house, Party City felt like a very normal retail store with fluorescent lights.
There were decorations hanging from the ceiling and on shelves at the front of the store.
These prices ranged from $5 and $60 — slightly cheaper than Spirit Halloween.
I was surprised to find that the Halloween section was only contained to three aisles.
Coming from the much larger Spirit Halloween next door, it was jarring to see the Halloween section was so small — however, Party City sells items for parties of all types, so the rest of the store had products for non-spooky celebrations.
At the back of the store, there was a large display that showcased all the available costumes.
In this Party City, they don't hang up their costumes in bags for shoppers to grab. Instead, you have to peruse this display, find the costume you want, and then ask an employee to get it for you from the back.
When I took a closer look at the wall, I noticed that the prices ranged from $24 to $49, which is a bit cheaper than Spirit Halloween. But there seemed to be one option per costume, which was a disappointment.
This system meant I had to ask someone to go into the back and get the costume for me.
Since it's only September, Party City was empty, so it would have been easy to ask an employee for help. But I've been to a Party City in mid to late October and it's mayhem. Trying to get a good look at the wall of pictures when there's a large crowd is hard, and attempting to get the attention of a busy, overworked employee is even more difficult.
In my opinion, the system simply doesn't work when it gets busy.
Next to the display wall, there was a section of costume accessories separated by color.
There were cheap hats, necklaces, and wigs starting at $5, but I couldn't figure out why people would just want to go as a color for Halloween.
I thought this section lacked the creativity that I saw in Spirit Halloween.
However, while walking down the aisles, I noticed more costume accessories were separated by theme just like in Spirit Halloween.
Party City had themes like "Historic," "Day of the Dead," and "Western," but the selections weren't nearly as robust as the one I saw next door.
Party City also had a large mask section.
The masks ranged from $8 to $60.
The wig section, however, lacked when compared to Spirit Halloween.
There weren't many wig options, but of the ones available, they cost between $15 and $25.
Party City, however, has a big makeup section where items cost less than $15.
After spending some time in both stores, it's clear I will be returning to Spirit Halloween when I finally decide on this year's costume.
My trip to both Party City and Spirit Halloween revealed two vastly different stores.
While Party City generally has cheaper products, the selection was smaller, likely because the store also sells items for celebrations other than Halloween. Spirit Halloween, on the other hand, has a huge variety of costumes and decor in an entertaining environment.
Although I didn't settle on what costume I want to wear this season just yet, I know I'll be returning to Spirit Halloween to buy everything I need when I do.
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