The Untold Truth Of Spirit Halloween

Every year as summer draws to a close, fans of autumn's spooky season quickly prepare for October's magical holiday. Those searching for decorations, costumes, and everything else in between can find solace in Spirit Halloween. The infamous seasonal retailer first opened its doors back in 1983 after its founder, Joe Marver, realized how big the demand was for seasonal items. Since then, the company has significantly expanded and now has over 1,400 locations throughout the United States and Canada, according to the retailer's website.

But, of course, fans of Spirit Halloween don't need to wait for the pop-up shops to open their doors to customers. Instead, anyone that needs a dash of holiday delight can head over to the Spirit Halloween website and purchase an abundance of spooky products. Being a seasonally themed shop might lead some to think that's all the retailer has to offer, but, of course, Spirit Halloween has become more than just a seasonal store. The widely recognized retailer has quite a history and even switched its ownership over to another popular franchise as the company grew.

Fans of the infamous retailer may think they know everything about Spirit Halloween; however, there are still plenty of untold facts about this company that are truly magical.

Spirit Halloween's products can be purchased online year-round

Fans of the year's spookiest holiday delight in Spirit Halloween's annual shops that pop up throughout the United States and Canada in preparation for All Hallows' Eve. Much to these shoppers' delight, the company opens up its seasonal stores to its customers from early August to the beginning of November. However, admirers of Halloween, horror, and everything related to the fall season don't have to sit around waiting for the company's in-person stores to open their doors.

"For those customers who celebrate Halloween year-round — find us online 24/7, 365 days a year at," Spirit Halloween states on their website. This means that Halloween and horror lovers can enjoy the retailer's products entirely at their own convenience. According to Forbes, the company even partnered with Instacart in 2020 to make local delivery even more accessible for shoppers. Clearly, there's no hidden trick to enjoying the perfect year-round holiday treat of convenient and more accessible Halloween goodies.

The retailer has a charity organization called Spirit of Children

Spirit Halloween might be infamous for its abundance of holiday items, but this company has another unique offering that is truly magical. In 2006, Spirit Halloween launched a program called Spirit of Children. Every October, the group brings the holiday spirit to children's hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. According to Spirit Halloween, the group is partnered with 147 hospitals to bring "the magic of Halloween" to children's hospitals and "make hospitals less scary for kids and their families." Those interested in donating to the cause can do so inside Spirit Halloween stores and will be pleased to know that 100% of donations support the children's hospitals' Child Life Departments.

Spirit Halloween is "wholeheartedly passionate" about its children's program. The company provides more than $400,000 a year to fund this organization because it genuinely believes in the program's work to support children's hospitals. Since its start, the project has only continued to grow. During its first year, Spirit of Children partnered with 11 hospitals, and now it has the goal to bring its program to "every hospital in North America." With no sign of slowing down, Spirit of Children will undoubtedly continue to do great work and assist children's hospitals by providing a special holiday experience.

Spirit Halloween doesn't just sell Halloween items

Naturally, with a name like Spirit Halloween, most of the company's fans tend to think of items geared towards spooky season, such as Halloween costumes, home decor, and novelties conveniently sold in their seasonal pop-up shops. However, just because the retailer is known for selling an abundance of products for Halloween doesn't mean that October is the only time of the year to purchase this store's goodies. Though the company does indeed has a year-round online store so that Halloween enthusiasts can get their fix of spooky items any time of the year, Halloween items aren't the only thing you'll find on the website.

Some customers might be surprised to learn that Spirit Halloween doesn't just limit itself to one holiday. Those looking to get apparel, decorations, and other novelty items can check out their available products for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The company's choice to branch out and sell merchandise for more than just Halloween means that shoppers can find plenty of goods to meet their needs for most major holidays.

Spirit Halloween was founded by Joe Marver in 1983

Before opening up his first Halloween shop in 1983, Joe Marver ran a clothing store. He noticed that a Halloween costume shop across the street was flourishing during the fall season despite his own struggle to make sales, according to Medallion Retail. The realization that Halloween items were in high demand during October gave him the idea to start selling his own holiday merchandise. The plan was a success, and the following year he expanded to a nearby mall and temporarily took over a second space for fall.

According to The Seattle Times, Marver's second location brought in $100,000 from its sales in about one month. Eventually, this thriving seasonal shop led to the infamous brand fans and shoppers know today. "I didn't invent temporary sales," Marver told The Seattle Times. "But I feel like I invented temporary Halloween." Spirit Halloween's success has only continued to grow. Despite Marver no longer being the company's owner, the retailer certainly wouldn't be what it is today without his initial conception.

The original store sold women's clothing

Today Spirit Halloween is best known for its wide variety of products dedicated to the fall's spookiest season. However, when Joe Marver first opened his business, his store had nothing to do with the holiday it's now famous for. Fans of the seasonal retailer might be surprised to learn what Spirit Halloween was before becoming a holiday store. Originally called Spirit Women's Discount Apparel, Marver's first business sold women's clothing, according to Bloomberg, and its single location was in California, a far cry from Spirit Halloween's current ever-growing company.

Bloomberg stated that the entrepreneur "didn't have any special love for the Oct. 31 holiday." However, he reportedly considered himself a business "maniac," and he soon realized that his venture into the world of seasonal retail was more successful than his women's clothing store. Still, he did make sure a part of his first business lived on with Spirit Halloween sharing a piece of the original store's moniker.

Spirit Halloween was bought by Spencer's Gifts

Though Joe Marver was responsible for starting Spirit Halloween, the store's ownership has changed since it first opened its doors in 1983 in Castro Valley, California (via Market Realist). The retailer's positive reception for selling all things Halloween naturally led to expansion, which had grown to 60 stores by 1999. That same year, the business was purchased from its founder by the well-known novelty franchise Spencer's Gifts. Spencer's Gifts, which originally began as a mail-order business in 1947, has continued to make Spirit Halloween thrive. As a result, the seasonal company now has more than 1,400 seasonal shops throughout the United States and Canada, as noted by The New York Times in 2020.

According to Forbes, in 2013, around half of Spencer's Gifts yearly earnings (approximately $250 million) came from Spirit Halloween. CEO Steven Silverstein told the publication of another critical factor that comes with a successful business: repurposing. Silverstein stated, "You have to be able to carry over a significant amount of inventory year to year." According to him, Spirit repurposes "30% to 40%." Additionally, though possibly not surprisingly, around 90% of Spirit's online revenue comes in as the fall season approaches, even though the company's website site is year-round. 

And if you were wondering, yes, you can use Spencer's gift cards at Spirit Halloween locations.

A majority of Spirit Halloween's business comes from last-minute shoppers

While some fans of October's most magical holiday make seasonal purchases all year, it would appear that a majority of Spirit Halloween shoppers don't share this affinity for year-round decorations. Despite the retailer opening its doors in early August, Spirit Halloween customers don't come rushing in, at least not according to Mary Leonard. In 2018, the Spirit Halloween store manager, who'd worked at Spirit Halloween stores for five years at the time, told The Washington Post that more than half of the location's business would happen within the last two weeks of October.

"We get so busy on weekends that the stores get tore up pretty bad," she said. "Even when we're going through and cleaning up a dozen times a day." This statement might surprise some customers, considering the business opens its seasonal shops towards the end of summer and also has a year-round online store.

The flagship store is in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Spirit Halloween has over 1,400 locations across the United States and Canada for their seasonal pop-up shops; however, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, is the home to Spirit Halloween's flagship store. 

As a special treat for the holiday season, the flagship location opened for the season on July 31, 2021, with a "special event," according to PR Newswire. The spooky season festivities included gift bags for the first 100 customers, "live music, food trucks, and a coffin full of surprises." Additionally, the opening had an early morning "ribbon-cutting ceremony" and special guests like the Egg Harbor Township mayor and social media influencers.  

The unique opening was meant as a "thank you to all Spirit fans" who kept the Halloween spirit alive during the 2020 holiday season. Spirit Halloween's CEO Steven Silverstein shared in a statement, "While 2020 was a challenging year, our fans and enthusiasts everywhere made sure Halloween happened. Now we're back and bringing Halloween to life like never before."

Their team starts looking for the next year's locations right after Halloween

The beginning of November might mark the end of spooky season for some, but the work is just beginning for the Spirit Halloween team. According to Vox, in 2012, the retailer's senior director of real estate Frank Pacera stated during a podcast interview, "The minute our door is closed, we are — or actually, before our doors close — we are prepping for the next season." In terms of staying one step ahead, Spirit Halloween's employees are definitely going the extra mile spending almost the entire year prepping for next Halloween. Pacera considers the significant steps of Spirit Halloween's never-ending cycle to be finding store locations, negotiating, and hiring and training people.

First, workers begin by finding the perfect place to set up shop. The retailer's general measurements are considered to be anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet, though the company is willing to take smaller or bigger locations depending on the situation. Spirit Halloween's preference, if available, is to take over empty spaces near large businesses such as "Best Buy, Target, or Walmart." Next are arrangements with landlords, which typically take "months" to negotiate. The final step is getting the shop's seasonal employees ready to open with district managers attending "a week-long training meeting" in New Jersey. Soon after, Spirit Halloween pop-ups are open for business.

The retailer announced a seasonal takeover of the original Barney's in New York City in 2021

Spirit Halloween is certainly no stranger to setting up their seasonal stores in the graveyards of former businesses, and 2021's pop-up shops are no exception. According to CNN Business, for 2021's spookiest season, one of Spirit Halloween's many retail stores will temporarily take over the space that housed the original Barney's department store in New York City. The department store, which sold luxury clothing, first opened its doors in 1923 and became a well-known American retail icon. Unfortunately, Barney's filed for bankruptcy in 2019, as CNN Business reported, before the high-end retailer officially closed its doors in 2020.

However, thanks to Spirit Halloween, one location is temporarily coming back to life. Consumers close to 101 7th Avenue will once again be able to step back inside the former luxury clothing store to purchase Halloween-themed decorations and novelties. Still, being a seasonal shop means that the location will once again go back to being nothing more than a memory of its once-thriving past life after October 31.

COVID-19 didn't stop Spirit Halloween from opening seasonal shops

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many stores had to adjust their policies to align with health guidelines, and some retailers even ended up closing their doors for good. Fortunately, for fans of spooky season, Spirit Halloween chose to open up its pop-up shops in 2020, making the announcement on their Instagram page and shutting down rumors that stated otherwise. According to Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein, "Halloween restores hopefulness and provides an outlet for escape." He also noted that the company was "fully committed to returning."

However, as a precaution, health-related safety measures were put in place. In 2020, a writer for Business Insider went into a Spirit Halloween pop-up shop near Rochester, New York, to see what the shopping experience was like during the pandemic. The writer found that the seasonal store was just about "the only sign of life" in its strip mall location and noted that the inside of the shop seemed familiar with only minimal differences. The most significant sign that COVID-19 was a serious concern were the floor markers for social distancing, closed fitting rooms, and signs discouraging customers from trying on costume masks.

Spirit Halloween has a YouTube channel

Spirit Halloween knows how to keep the magical holiday experience going all year round. In addition to its online store and its social media outlets, such as Facebook and Instagram, the company also has an active YouTube channel. Loyal customers craving more from Spirit Halloween can get new creative ideas to spark their imagination by heading over the retailer's channel and checking out its various offerings.

Viewers will find plenty of videos featuring spooky Halloween-centric make-up tutorials, including "How to Apply Vampire Fangs" and "Graveyard Queen Makeup Tutorial," and even tips for "How to Use Different Kinds of Fake Blood." There are also plenty of scary decoration ideas to "transform your home into a haunted house" with their "Halloween Props, Costumes, & More" playlist, which showcases various items to spark your inner decorator and get you into the holiday spirit. With plenty of spooky and magical videos to chose from, Spirit Halloween's YouTube channel has something for everyone and anyone looking to bring some extra enchantment to their favorite holiday.

There's a Spirit Halloween movie

Spirit Halloween fans are in for the ultimate treat this fall with the upcoming movie "Spirit Halloween." With plenty of lightheartedly creepy moments seen in the teaser trailer, this family film is likely to be on every Halloween lover's must-watch list for the spooky season. As noted by Entertainment Weekly, the film will follow a group of kids hiding out in a Spirit Halloween store. Unfortunately for the kiddos, their night of fun and mischief takes a chilling turn for the worst after they encounter an angry and evil spirit (played by the iconic Christopher Lloyd) hiding out in the shop. In addition to the "Back to the Future" star, Rachael Leigh Cook of "She's All That" will also appear in the Halloween-themed feature.

"Spirit Halloween" was written by Billie Bates and was directed by David Poag. According to Variety, the trailer for the film (which also stars Donovan Colan, Dylan Martin Frankel, and Jaiden J. Smith) initially premiered at the opening of Spirit Halloween's flagship store on July 30 before making its online debut. Actors Colan, Frankel, and Smith also made appearances at the store. Additionally, with Spirit Halloween being known for its holiday store takeovers of closed-down or abandoned shops, it is worth noting that the majority of the film was shot in the lot of an abandoned Toys R Us in Georgia. With that in mind, there's no questioning that "Spirit Halloween" will become a fall fan favorite.

You can run your own Spirit Halloween store

If you love the experience of being inside a Spirit Halloween store and wish it didn't have to end, you're in luck. According to Business Opportunities, spooky season lovers can keep the holiday spirit going strong by opening their own Spirit Halloween store. So how exactly does that work? Most of their shops are consignment operations, which means the company will ship the merchandise to the store and take a percentage of the items' sales. Whatever isn't sold gets sent back to Spirit Halloween at the end of the season, and the company even covers the cost for the returning items.

So how do Halloween lovers make their Spirit Halloween dream a reality? First, you would become a consignment operator, secure a space, purchase all the necessary supplies, and hire and pay the staff. Your shop would then operate under the Spirit Halloween name and follow the company's rules and regulations. Similarly, Spirit Halloween explains in detail the necessary steps you'll need to follow, as well as some of the perks. For example, no long-term contract is required, and the startup cost is considered fairly low. Additionally, the company provides a deposit when you sign your contract and will automatically withdraw its share of funds through credit card sales. Those seriously interested in running their own Spirit store can contact either Ann Sullivan, the senior director of consignment operations or Mary Lou Casto, the manager of consignment operations.

Spirit Halloween brings in plenty of earnings

With plenty of store locations popping up each holiday season, most people would assume that Spirit Halloween is making serious money. According to the Hustle, this impression is likely accurate. However, the company's exact figures aren't publicly released. Still, in 2015, financial firm Moody's estimated that Spirit made approximately $400 million in sales, which was 16% of the $2.5 billion spent on costumes that year in the US. With that in mind, of NRF's projected $3.3 billion spent on costumes in 2021, Spirit's revenue for that year was likely around $528 million, per the Hustle. It's a big step up from the shop's humble beginnings, which started with a single shop run by Joe Marver.

Nowadays, there are approximately 1,400 Spirit Halloween pop-up stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. So, what other costs factor into the company? As Vox reported, the company hired approximately 35,000 seasonal employees to help run their stores in 2016. The outlet also reported that the average individual spends around $86.79 on Halloween-related festivities, so you can imagine that can add up quickly for Spirit Halloween. Similarly, in 2017, the Las Vegas Review-Journal estimated that in terms of Halloween purchases, individuals overall spent approximately $3.4 billion on costumes, $2.7 billion on candy, another $2.7 billion on decorations, and $400 million on greeting cards.

Being a Spirit Halloween employee isn't always easy

Working at a Spirit Halloween store may sound like a dream come true. Still, according to Mental Floss, though working for the company has its perks, it's not always the easiest job. So what are some benefits of working for the company? According to Kota, a five-year veteran of a Spirit Halloween shop in Kentucky, those who love the spooky season will be surrounded by like-minded individuals. "I've never once worked with an employee that didn't love Halloween," Kota said. Likewise, once Halloween is over, employees get a hefty 30% discount added to their standard employee discount, which is 50%.

So what are some of the struggles of working at a Spirit Halloween? One thing that's been an issue for some employees is the considerable mess that comes along with the holiday season. Spirit employee Derek said, "You could've just finished putting every mask neatly back on the racks, and half of them will be back on the floor before you've caught your breath." Another hassle is trying to stop customers from trying on costumes in the middle of the aisles. There are also the spooky occurrences that happen in the shops. Depending on their preference for holiday frights, employees may or may not see this as a perk. "An associate and I have both seen things swaying on the shelves as if someone walked by it, though nobody else is in the store," said Spirit employee Jayme.

Spirit Halloween supports students

According to Stockton University, Spirit Halloween isn't just focused on Halloween costumes and decorations — the company is also serious about giving back to those looking to further their education. The write-up reported that the Stockton University Foundation recently received $250,000 from Spencer's and Spirit Halloween. Both companies have a long history of employing Stockton students and graduates. $200,000 is expected to go toward scholarship efforts for computer science and marketing students, while $50,000 will go toward supporting School of Business initiatives.

"Stockton University Foundation scholarships allowed me to continue my education in the master of business administration program after earning a bachelor's in business studies in May," said Rifat Mahmud. Stockton President Harvey Kesselman was equally pleased with the gift. "When our students get the opportunity to intern and get jobs at a company like Spencer's or Spirit Halloween, you have changed their lives, their families' lives, and their futures," he stated. Steven Silverstein, the CEO of Spencer's and Spirit Halloween, said that his companies were happy to support those looking to further their education. The money will also assist in aiding the dean's Distinguished Lecture Series and the Excellence Fund, as well as the Annual School of Business Awards.