Halloween Headquarters grew from a one-kiosk operation to over 15 temporary superstores throughout Northern California. Two year-round stores, Too Much Fun in Santa Cruz and House of Humor in Redwood City, indicate the holiday is much more than a seasonal event.
TDmonthly recently spoke with Jon Waldrep, district manager and senior buyer at Halloween Headquarters.
TD Monthly: What changes have you seen in the last five or ten years in the way that Halloween is being celebrated?
Jon Waldrep: While trick-or-treating is still popular for children, adults have made Halloween one of their favorite party holidays. Many companies now host a party for their employees, and Halloween parties at home often are the year´s biggest bash. Many cities, like San Francisco, have huge outdoor block parties with tens of thousands of participants.
TDM: Has there been an increase in high-tech merchandise?
JW: Certainly the glow-in-the-dark products, as well as light-up or flashing items, have become increasingly popular. Fiber optics in decorations has been very popular the past three years. As fiber optic prices continue to fall, I suspect we´ll see it incorporated more often in costumes and masks. We are also seeing more animatronics available for the general consumer. These often incorporate motion sensors to spring to life as an unsuspecting victim walks by.
TDM: What is the appeal of this holiday?
JW: For kids, it´s often the opportunity to dress up like a favorite cartoon or movie character. For many adults, it´s a chance to step out of character and wear something outrageous. Halloween is the perfect excuse to wear something sexy, scary, funny, or just plain bizarre. Others love creating scary Halloween scenes on their front lawns or in their homes. Each year people spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to create elaborate graveyard scenes or haunted houses. Fog machines, tombstones, giant spiders, life-sized skeletons, scary sound-effect CDs and spider webs are popular items.
TDM: What is your secret to success?
JW: We have 5,000 to 20,000 square feet of everything Halloween. Our stores are fun places to visit, so customers will often come back several times.
TDM: How many customers visit your stores every year?
JW: Thousands! The remarkable thing is that while our stores are generally open seven or eight weeks, we do 70 percent of our total sales the last ten days. It´s not uncommon to have a couple hundred people in line at our peak times.
TDM: How many of your sales are via the Internet?
JW: Our Internet orders grew substantially this season and we think our online store will soon represent a major part of our revenue.
TDM: From which age group do you receive the most sales?
JW: Our largest individual department, and the area with the highest sales, is adult costumes. We are seeing more and more adults, particularly women, opt for higher-end costumes. The trend for women has been sexy, revealing costumes. Sexy nurse costumes far outsold traditional nurse costumes. Men go for funny costumes such as a giant banana or whoopee cushion. The movies "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Chicago" provided inspiration for both children´s and adult costumes this year.