Every year for Halloween, Betsey Breeden crafts her own costumes, even constructing a Glinda the Good Witch getup last year. This year, she chose to shop at Spirit Halloween, a pop-up superstore at Lake Ella Plaza that offers costumes, home décor, and animatronics.
She settled on a Winifred Sanderson Hocus Pocus costume dress, costing $55.
“I would think it’s a pretty good investment if you like to do Halloween,” Breeden said of her purchase. She chose to visit Spirit Halloween for the first time based on the convenience of a ready-made costume and quality.
Will and Zoie Haney traveled twice from Perry, Florida to the Spirit store at Lake Ella. They were shopping for a Michael Myers mask and an infant costume.
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“They’re doing a pretty good job opening up for the season,” Will Haney said of the well-stocked shelves. “If you buy something from here it’s definitely worth keeping.”
Spirit Halloween is the country’s largest retailer for Halloween paraphernalia, selling millions of dollars in merchandising every year. Last Halloween season, the Lake Ella location generated $1.3 million in sales, more than double what was projected.
In anticipation of an even larger demand, Spirit Halloween opened a second location last month in the former Sears wing at Governor’s Square mall.
“This is a high-volume area, the store was making four times its sales on opening day,” said Crystal Rider, manager at the Lake Ella location, 1694 N. Monroe St.
Spirit associates say the mall location will help lighten their load and keep operations running smoothly.
“This store is definitely going to be one of the bigger sales,” said Sianna Ingram, an assistant manager at the mall location.
Both stores are stocked with more than $1 million in merchandise, with shipments arriving weekly.
The mall location will occupy 10,000 square feet. The bigger space will welcome more entertainment and attractions.
"A lot of people come here for the experience of the in-store examples,” said Mariah Oliff, manager of the mall site who has worked for Spirit Halloween for three years in Tallahassee
“The walkways and little haunted house examples, once those are hooked up, they're really attractive, people will come in just for that and leave," Oliff said.
The “in-store examples” featuring interactive animatronics, holograms and vibrating floors often sell out quickly. Fans of Spirit Halloween stores have created Facebook groups where they share tips and trade exclusive collector’s items.
Oliff shared that last year a shopper drove from Tennessee to Tallahassee for a collector’s animatronic based on a tip from Facebook.
“We have people that come in the first day and buy out all the animatronics,” said Oliff, referring to the popular animated puppets usually placed in yards or in haunted houses. “Our home décor is bigger than it’s ever been.”
But costumes are still the biggest draw for shoppers of all ages.
Hot selling adult costumes are expected to be Stranger Things, Monster High and Hocus Pocus. For young children, Bluey, Fortnite and Miraculous are popular costumes that are already beginning to sell out.
Ivy Bryant decided to start shopping early for costumes with her son Emory, and daughter Audrey. Bryant says they plan to start looking around for options first and then return later to make a purchase.
“Halloween is their favorite so we’re preparing early,” Bryant said while visiting the Lake Ella shop.
Contact Democrat writer Alaijah Brown at ABrown1@gannett.com and on Twitter at @BrownAlaijah.
Want a job?
Spirit Halloween stores in Tallahassee are hiring associates and assistant managers with incentives for seasonal jobs. Applications can be found online at www.spencersandspiritjobs.com.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Spirit Halloween in Tallahassee: Retailer opening at Governor’s Square