As September sets in, the return of pumpkin spice lattes and the opening of the Spirit Halloween store, emphasize the “spooky season” that is right around the corner. In previous years, El Pasoans would travel to the Eastside of town to visit the Spirit Halloween store, because there were none available anywhere else. Now consumers can shop from the side of town where they reside.
Open for business
Spirit Halloween typically opens up around Labor Day. However, this year the stores found themselves opening up a few weeks earlier.
“This year we did start a little bit earlier just to accommodate for the loss of last year because of COVID,” Abby Costigan the Store Manager from the Cielo Vista mall location said.
Costigan has been a part of the Spirit Halloween chain for 15 years.
The Cielo Vista location opened its doors for business on August 24, 2021. Their last day of sales is scheduled for November 2, 2021, with a 50% off deal storewide starting November 1, 2021.
Though the last day of production is November 2, their last day in the store is November 6, giving employees time to do inventory, pack and load everything onto the truck.
Since opening, Spirit Halloween has been really busy. “There’s always people waiting for us to open the store the next morning, Paulina Nieto, the Store Manager from the George Dieter location said. Business is expected to increase mid-September.
Spirit Halloween advertises with ads and billboards throughout El Paso. In addition, they use social media outlets, such as Facebook and Instagram.
“Word of mouth has also been successful,” Nieto said.
In June, a team gets together and drives around El Paso in search of vacant buildings.
“A lot of people think, “Oh, it’s seasonal. It’s going to be easy,” and it’s not,” Costigan said. “I think that’s been a problem with hiring management, is they come in here thinking it’s going to be a piece of pie and it’s really not. It’s hectic, payroll, shipments, putting up and breaking down in a matter of two and a half months.”
Location does play a major role in the effect of business. In previous years, Spirit Halloween stores were only open on the Eastside of El Paso.
“Surprisingly, this location has been doing really well,” Costigan said. “There has been locations that haven’t done very well and I just think it’s just the part of El Paso that it’s in.”
This year, Spirit Halloween has branched out to not only northeast and west El Paso but opened a location in the Cielo Vista mall. It is located on the first floor, where Banana Republic used to be.
Spirit Halloween stores can be found on Dyer Street, George Dieter, Remcon Circle and Gateway Blvd. West, resulting in a total of five locations.
Spirit Halloween is not the only store to sell good quality Halloween decorations. Consumers also shop at Target, At Home and Party City when they want to find décor.
“The good thing about Spirit is that it has its own brand,” Costigan said. “We carry a bigger variety. I think Spirit out beats all of them.”
When the stores open up every year, previous employees are welcomed back to their job. In fact, very few employees are new hires.
“My store in general, I do have a lot of returning employees,” Costigan said. “Very few of my employees do come from applications that they actually submitted through the website.”
Though the season is brief, Spirit Halloween is a second source of income for some employees.
“I work at Rue 21,” Marc Acosta who is a Sales Associate at the George Dieter location said.
Acosta is currently a student at UTEP and says that work can sometimes interfere with school.
At the end of July is when employees will receive a call welcoming them back to work. The job’s starting pay is $8.25 per hour, but employees do get a pay increase for every year that they return.
“I was making around nine something, and now I’m making ten something,” Acosta said.
All employees must be at least 16 years of age to work at Spirit Halloween. Employees are required to learn both the floor and the register.
Although guests are not required to wear masks, it is mandatory for all employees to wear face masks. In addition, the employees sanitize “everything before, after and during,” and wash their hands frequently. A hand sanitizing station is posted upon entering the store for guests as well.
Is Halloween cancelled?
Due to COVID-19, Halloween was “cancelled” in 2020. Now with vaccines and fewer restrictions on mask mandates, the question arises: Will there be Halloween this year?
According to Costigan, Nieto and Acosta, Halloween looks to be promising this year.
Spirit Halloween is still not allowing guests to try on any costumes or masks, to comply with COVID-19 mandates.
Tons of new merchandise is sold at Spirit Halloween every year. The best-sellers typically come from new movie releases, along with classics such as Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, management has noticed an increase in sales for their anime products as well.
“Our best-selling is probably like all our anime stuff,” Nieto said.
Returning to work at Spirit Halloween every year continues to bring the team close together.
“We’ve become a big family because we work with each other every year,” Nieto said.
Although Spirit Halloween is only open for a few months, it can get pretty stressful.
“Throughout August, September, October and a little bit of November, we have no life.” Nieto said.
This story is a part of series of posts that were re-uploaded after being deleted.