The annual return of Spirit Halloween stores
As September sets in, the return of pumpkin spice lattes and the opening of the Spirit Halloween store, emphasize the “spooky season” that is just around the corner. With a year’s worth of pandemic living in everyone’s back pocket, it seems that Spirit Halloween stores are prepared for large crowds and lots of shopping.
In previous years, El Pasoans would travel to the Eastside of town to visit the Spirit Halloween store, because there were none available anywhere else. Now consumers can shop from the side of town where they reside.
Is Halloween cancelled?
Due to COVID-19, Halloween was “cancelled” in 2020. Now with vaccines and fewer restrictions on mask mandates, the question arises: Will there be Halloween this year?
According to Spirit Halloween Store Managers Abby Costigan, Paulina Nieto and Sales Associate Marc Acosta, Halloween looks to be promising this year.
Open for business
Spirit Halloween typically opens up around Labor Day. However, this year the stores found themselves opening up a few weeks earlier. According to Costigan, it’s to make up for the loss of sales during 2020.
Costigan has been a part of the Spirit Halloween chain for 15 years. But,this year, it’s different.
“Surprisingly, this location has been doing really well,” Costigan said. “There
has been locations that haven’t done very well and I just think it’s just the part of El Paso that it’s in.”
Costigan manages the location inside Cielo Vista Mall, which opened its doors for business on August 24, 2021. Since opening, she said, Spirit Halloween has seen a large wave of customers.
“There’s always people waiting for us to open the store the next morning,” Nieto, the store manager from the George Dieter location said.
Despite other stores carrying Halloween related products, Costigan believes customers come back because of a desire for the brand, “it outbeats” their competition.
Their last day of sales is scheduled for November 2, 2021, with a 50% off deal storewide starting November 1, 2021.
Though the official last day of production is November 2, according to a Spirit Halloween manager, the last day in the store for employees is November 6, giving time to do inventory, pack and load everything onto a truck.
Business is expected to increase mid-September.
According to management, some best-sellers to keep an eye out for typically come from new movie releases, along with classics such as Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, management has noticed an increase in sales for their anime products as well.
“Our best-selling is probably like all our anime stuff,” Nieto said.
The process of opening up again
In June, a team gets together and drives around El Paso in search of vacant buildings. Though, the small size of the shopping centers in El Paso make it difficult to find an appropriate sized building, Costigan. In previous years, Spirit Halloween stores were only open on the Eastside of El Paso.
The process overall, she said, is stressful.
“Throughout August, September, October and a little bit of November, we have no life.” Nieto said.
“I think that’s been a problem with hiring management, is they come in here thinking it’s going to be a piece of pie and it’s really not. It’s hectic, payroll, shipments, putting up and breaking down in a matter of two and a half months,” Costigan said.
When the stores open up every year, previous employees are welcomed back to their job. In fact, very few employees are new hires.
“My store in general, I do have a lot of returning employees,” Costigan said. “Very few of my employees do come from applications that they actually submitted through the website.”
Though the season is brief, Spirit Halloween is a second source of income for some employees.
“I work at Rue 21,” Marc Acosta who is a Sales Associate at the George Dieter location said.
Acosta is currently a student at UTEP and says that work can sometimes interfere with school.
At the end of July is when employees will receive a call welcoming them back to work. The job’s starting pay is $8.25 per hour, but employees do get a pay increase for every year that they return.
“I was making around nine-something, and now I’m making ten-something,” Acosta said.
All employees must be at least 16 years of age to work at Spirit Halloween. Employees are required to learn both the floor and the register.
Although guests are not required to wear masks, it is mandatory for all employees to wear face masks. In addition, the employees sanitize “everything before, after and during,” and wash their hands frequently. A hand sanitizing station is posted upon entering the store for guests as well.
Spirit Halloween is still not allowing guests to try on any costumes or masks, to comply with COVID-19 mandates.
This year, Spirit Halloween has branched out to not only northeast and west El Paso but opened a location in the Cielo Vista mall. It is located on the first floor, where Banana Republic used to be.
Spirit Halloween stores can be found on Dyer Street, George Dieter, Remcon Circle and Gateway Blvd. West, resulting in a total of five locations.
Story by Brianne Williams