Halloween has become an adults' Christmas, a local retailer says.
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Gone are the days of cutting eye holes in a sheet, draping it over your head, grabbing a pillowcase and knocking on neighbors' undecorated doors.
Halloween these days is big business.
"A lot of people love to decorate," said Marisa Scott, manager of the Party Place on Boardman-Canfield Road, Boardman. "They get out there and they really get creative with it. They'll come in here and check it out as soon as we start setting it up."
The Party Place offers many types of decorations including fog machines, spider webbing, lights and chains, as well as costumes and party supplies.
To handle the crowds during the Halloween season, Scott hires three temporary, part-time workers to help the three full-time and four part-time year-round workers. Halloween is the busiest time of year for the store, she noted.
People come to Ward's Costume Shoppe on Robbins Avenue, Niles, as early as August to reserve a costume, said Shirley James, owner. The store offers costumes for purchase and has more than 2,000 rentals available. If a customer couldn't get the costume he wanted the year before, he often contacts James early the next year.
The store, which carries costumes and accessories, normally employs two, but hires temporary workers for the month of October.
Not just for kids
In the past, Halloween was geared toward kids, but it is becoming increasingly popular with adults, James said.
"Halloween has become an adults' Christmas," she said. "The adults at Halloween time can kind of relax and do whatever they want, and it's not as stressful as Christmastime."
Adults, James said, are getting into elaborate costumes and using extensive makeup and different accessories to add a special touch to their outfit.
"Adults are actually going out more," agreed the Party Place's Scott. "They're starting to get dressed up and have Halloween parties. This is the time of year to be silly. You can get away with it. No one's going to think you're crazy."
Store within a store
"Halloween is such a big part of our retail business that we have named a store within a store," said Jeffrey Lyda, co-owner of Party On!, located in the Eastwood Mall complex, Niles. "Our Halloween store is called Halloween Mania."
Last year, Lyda, with co-owner Debbie Simon, opened a temporary all-Halloween store in Austintown. It was so successful they opened Halloween Mania in the Austintown Plaza again this year.
Preparation for the holiday begins early at Party On!, Lyda said. In March, three buyers head to Chicago for a five-day national Halloween and party convention. Orders are completed by the end of March, and merchandise arrives between July and September.
"We thoroughly search catalogs to ensure we have included every costume and costume accessory that is available," he said. "Popular characters and personalities on television and the movies are always a major source of interest for customers."
The store carries decorations, party supplies, toys and games, as well as costumes.
To compete with large national retailers, the local stores say they offer more selections at reasonable prices.
"We also stock our stores heavily with merchandise so that we have enough Halloween merchandise to last until Oct. 31," Lyda said.
James pointed out that Ward's is a costume shop. "We do this year-round, so we know our merchandise."