Ruth Anderson ponders the selection of costumes Thursday afternoon at Mallard's Party off Kalifornsky Beach Road. She was looking for matching ninja costumes for herself and her young son.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Sales of broom sticks and pointy hats are up. Capes and fake pointy teeth are going fast. This can only mean one thing Halloween isn’t far off, and local business already are reporting spook-tacular sales of ghoulish goodies.
“October is a big month for us, and sales usually start to pick up steam about 10 days out. It just started yesterday. I’d say it picked up 50 percent overnight,” said Terri Wenger on Thursday.
She is the owner of Mallard’s Party Tricks in Soldotna.
Wenger said Mallard’s specializes in a variety of merchandise for throwing a monster mash.
“We have everything you could possibly need to throw a Halloween party,” she said, listing a myriad of party favors, balloons, gag gifts, plates and tableware all in the theme of the season.
In regard to costumes, Wenger said Mallard’s tends to stock more traditional themes, as opposed to licensed products.
“We have Shrek and Uncle Fester costumes, but we tend to stick more to costumes like witches, angels, mermaids, cats and mice,” she said.
The store even carries a few oddities, even by Halloween standards, according to Wenger.
“We have 6-feet-long coffins and they’re doing well. We generally sell out of all 10 in stock,” she said.
At Fred Meyer in Soldotna, store director Ron Delaney said the cauldron of business was about to boil over there, as well.
“Sales for costumes are going good, but it won’t get crazy until the week before,” he said.
Star Wars-themed costumes are the hot item this year, according to Delaney.
“The Darth Vader mask with the voice changer in it is the number one selling mask to date,” he said.
For adults, you’re never to old to play dress up, and Delaney said inflatable costumes were the rage this year.
“The sumo wrester and trailer park trash women are both very popular,” he said.
Delaney said themed yard decorations are a hot commodity on Halloween, so much so that they sold out of a few items last year. He said the store doubled its order this year to meet the demand.
“We’ve got an inflatable skull and bones archway, 6-feet-tall pumpkins, 5-feet-tall motion-activated rapping skeletons and we’re selling fog machines as fast as I can get them in,” he said.
For those who pinch pennies throughout the year, Halloween is no exception, and costumes at local thrift stores are disappearing like magic.
“We’ve had people in buying costumes every day. We had four racks of costumes and they’re just about gone,” said Gerry Sipes, store manager of The Salvation Army’s Kenai thrift store.
In addition to costumes, the thrift store is selling more clothes than usual as the holiday gets closer, she added.
“The last week we’ve had men coming in buying clothes to dress up as women, or scarecrows or other things,” Sipes said.
Some people take making their costumes a step further. Karin Williamson, a fabric specialist at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts in Soldotna, said people come in right up to the day before or the day of Halloween to purchase patterns or fabric for costumes.
“Some are very simple and cheap. We sell a lot of cheesecloth for mummies and ghosts, or felt for people to make capes or go as a piece of candy corn,” she said.
Some people spend hundreds of dollars and make very elaborate costumes, she said.
“The higher-end stuff is fabric that is glitzy or with sequins,” she said.
Williamson has sold a lot of materials to people working on making Renaissance or Medieval-period costumes, she said.
“Power Rangers and Pooh and Tigger costumes are very popular this year. I also saw a brother and sister that were going as Santa and a gift,” she said.
Williamson said there is something special about people making costumes.
“Parents and children get to spend time together, talking, planning it out and making it. It’s great,” she said.
Whether buying a costume or the materials to make one, according to a National Retail Federation 2005 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, consumers are expected to spend $3.29 billion on Halloween this year, up 5.4 percent from $3.12 billion in 2004.
By NRF’s findings, Halloween remains the sixth-largest spending holiday after winter holidays ($435.3 billion estimated), Valentine’s Day ($13.19 billion), Easter ($9.6 billion), Mother’s Day ($11.43 billion), and Father’s Day ($8.23 billion).
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