With pop-up stores, just like with a permanent business, location is everything. So when officials at Halloween superstore Spirit looked for locations for this year, they found an empty storefront in Lawrence.
The store, which popped up in mid-September, is located in the strip mall on the corner of Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue — just the type of high-traffic area that Spirit looks for when choosing its more than 900 locations throughout the country.
Lawrence Spirit assistant manager Richard Baker, a first-time Spirit employee, said that Spirit corporate managers start checking out locations in March, scouting out vacant buildings and companies that have gone out of business.
“If you pick the right location, you’ll probably have a successful year,” he said. “And our store in Lawrence is a great location, because it covers two areas. You’re on Long Island, but we’re also close to Queens. It’s easy access for both sides.”
According to the store manager Manuel Calero, who is a first-timer with Spirit, it took about two weeks to set up his store. It’s a lot of work for a store that will only be open about six or seven weeks, but according to Calero, if you do it right, it pays off.
“They have a design team that decides how they want it, depending on the square footage of the location,” he said. “Store managers get a big manual that tells you how to set up the displays, the costumes — everything down to the last detail.”
With more than a dozen scary displays and motion-activated animatronic figures set up all over the store, the place is just as much an attraction as it is a place to shop. Everywhere you look, there’s some gruesome creature coming to life, with horrifying shrieks, movements and lights. But it’s not just for show. Everything is available for purchase.
“At Spirit, the props and decorations sell just as well as the costumes,” he said. “It’s getting bigger and bigger.”
The store has fog machines, cauldrons, sound effects gadgets and anything else you need to turn your home into a haunted house.
“It’s a fun store to work for,” said Baker, who has worked for similar stores in the past. “We don’t just watch people come in to get costumes. We get to dress up and show them what they can actually look like.”
As for costumes, whether you want to look cute, sexy, scary or funny, you can find just what you’re looking for. Complete the look with a wig, makeup, beard, mask and or other fun accessories.
“For boys, Green Lantern has sold really well this year,” Baker said. “For girls, they weren’t going towards the dark vampire-type costumes this year. They were going more towards lighter, princess-type costumes.”
According to Baker, adults are into dressing up just as much as the kids.
“We sell a lot of adult costumes,” he said. “This year the popular theme is couple’s costumes — like an Egyptian god and goddess or a cop and a robber. And a lot of women pick up accessories like leggings, fishnet stockings and other kinds of hosiery.”
If you haven’t done your Halloween shopping yet, you’re not alone.
“We actually make the majority of our money in the last week before Halloween,” Baker said. “In the last seven days, we’ll probably generate about $180,000 to $200,000.”
Spirit stays open one week past Halloween, when everything goes on sale for half-off. That’s most likely when customers who don’t celebrate Halloween come in to shop, Baker said.
“Some people buy Purim costumes now to use in the spring,” he said.