Every year, without a beat, we know it’s the Halloween season when we see the local vacant store front get its Spirit Halloween sign!

Yes, indeed, it starts around August.. vacant former Sears, KMarts, and stores of your past come to life with seasonal decor, frightful costumes, and that autumnal annual feeling of Halloween.

Year after year, Spirit Halloween stores seem to not only be the harbinger of the season, but also they inhabit more retail as times goes on. As of 2021, they are now 1,400 stores strong nationwide!

A recent NPR article showcased just how interesting their business model is.

Perhaps above all, Spirit’s business model hinges on space. Lots of it. Spirit looks for anywhere between 5,000 and 50,000 square feet of space, but in the company’s own words, “no store is too large (or too small)” — and the company has no problem finding the space it needs. Drop any ZIP code or address into the company’s store locator, and a flurry of orange arrows is almost sure to pop up. The company finds this space largely in abandoned buildings — malls that have shut down, retailers that have filed for bankruptcy and so on. “Spirit is pretty much a bottom-feeder business that works only at the expense of other stores; if there weren’t vacant storefronts, this business wouldn’t exist,” writes Rachel Quednau, program director for Strong Towns, an urban planning advocacy group that emphasizes incremental city planning.

Bottom feeders!

But with such splendor!

The 1,400 stores strong (and quite the reputation) shows how good they are at what they do. From January to August, the company spends its time scouring the country and scoping out properties for temporary leases.

So here are some interesting facts to consider this year when you enter the dreadful Spirit Halloween store.

It wasn’t at first even a Halloween store at all!

Spirit Women’s Discount Apparel was the first business venture from California entrepreneur Joe Marver. When he noticed how much success the costume shop next door was having around Halloween, he decided to swap his regular apparel for costumes for a limited time in 1983.

Sales were great, and the next year, he opened his first pop-up Spirit Halloween shop, which brought in $100,000 worth of revenue in just one month.

In the 1990s, Spencers entered the fray.. Spencer Gifts entered the Halloween market. The retailer purchased Spirit Halloween in 1999 when the pop-up chain consisted of around 60 temporary locations. By Halloween 2018, Spencer’s had grown the operation to more than 1300 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Spirit Halloween donates tons of money to charity.. they help with retail hell, and they are also able to bring life to once darkened malls and stores. We should rejoice in their power! They are retail at its finest.. sure it may be fine to order your costume on Amazon, but somehow, someway, the Spirit begins with the Spirit Halloween store visit.

That is pretty cool considering retail has been dead for years.

Except on Halloween..
Except in the Spirit store..

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