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Who Needs Walmart? Small Retailers can take Advantage of Halloween's Homemade Spirit
By Rachael Mercer
February 1, 2003

My most vivid memories of childhood Halloweens are those when budget constraints required our family to be a little more creative. Growing up in the country, we had to make do with what was on-hand. Our family photos reveal a chronological record of characters brought to life through the humblest materials: a robot built from cardboard boxes, a hobo outfit made of old clothes, and even a polka-dotted Betty Boop made from scrap fabrics.

For Arts and Crafts retailers, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to welcome those parents who may be unfamiliar with the do-it-yourself approach but are weary of dressing their child as the latest licensed movie character year after year.

Clever kiosks or endcaps help catch the eye of parents needy for ideas on how to make Halloween special, and what better way than a DIY costume and decoration class held at your store? Kids will have a great time, and time-strapped parents will appreciate finding everything they need in a one-stop shopping environment.

Manufacturers of Halloween products distribute fliers and "how-to" instructions that can help you create eye-catching examples of costumes and decorations that, when displayed with the necessary ingredients nearby, can be a powerful enticement for families new to the idea of a homemade Halloween.

Even simple store decorations made from household materials can help inspire the creatively challenged customer. Stuffing and batting from pillows can be fashioned into spider webs. And pipe cleaners, when combined with rolly-eyes and cotton balls, make wonderfully furry overgrown spiders.

My son Payton will be two-years-old next Halloween, and I'm already planning our costumes. Payton can dress as Bob the Builder—not in a pre-made costume—but in a construction worker outfit his daddy and I will design. He may not remember all this in years to come, but there will always be the photo album filled with one-of-a-kind costumes to inspire a family of his own someday.

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