Halloween Pop-Up Shops
How they survive and what it means for the economy.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: October 4th, 2012
very October, defunct tax-preparing storefronts, gone-out-of-business video rental stores, and, in the case of last year, Borders book stores, are taken over by Halloween supply stores. These pop-up shops are only around for six weeks or so, and it's hard to imagine that they make enough money to justify being legitimate businesses otherwise, so where does the money really go? Is some 1% fatcat sitting around, counting $20 bills that he earned by selling the "sexy" version of every costume imaginable? Are these stores owned independently? Do they kick back a portion of profits to the "real" landlord (i.e., the shop that is there normally or used to be there)?
These pop-up stores usually only sign three-month leases, and earn enough money to last throughout the year.
After a bit of research, we found that these pop-up stores typically rent using three-month leases, setting up in late August and tearing down in early November. They're generally located in middle-class areas, where residents have the disposable income to purchase Halloween goodies. These temporary set-ups are able to profit because they sell a much wider selection of costumes and supplies than department stores, which usually only stock one or two aisles of costumes.
Since their leases are short and not long-term, no profits have to be given away, and things like phone numbers and signage are also temporary—phone numbers are disconnected after the shops close, and signage for the outside of the store can be taken down (since it's usually a banner) and stored for the next year.
But as far as what it means for the economy on a bigger scale, it's always interesting to see what stores they've taken over, since they're usually located in strip malls. Some of them are nearly permanently vacant otherwise, using the winter months for Christmas pop-up shops. But a vast majority have taken the space of businesses that failed.
Around the Chicagoland area, we found a costume shop that used to be the home of a Blockbuster Video store. It's interesting to see that stores that used to thrive have now become retail wasteland. People no longer visit bookstores, they rent e-books or buy from Amazon. They no longer rent videos from a store, they just stream it on Netflix. These stores could never survive on the offseason, so they're only there for a little bit of time each year.
As for what the employees do when their store closes—big Halloween party? Not quite. One employee we spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "When we close, we all just go out and get drunk."
Sounds about right.