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Lodi a reflection of Halloween's retail emergence

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Posted: Saturday, October 31, 2009 12:00 am

Inside a very busy The Party Guys Halloween Store on School Street, masks of President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton sell for $29.95, while accessories such as hippie earrings and dead skin can be had for less than $10.

Across town at Walgreens, bags of fun-size Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are being snapped up in preparation for trick-or-treaters. People are also decorating their lawns and shop windows with fake spider webs, headstones and graphic displays of carnage and gore.

What started as a celebration of harvest has become a commercialized endeavor.

According to the National Retail Federation's 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, shoppers are expected to spend an average of $56.31 on Halloween. An estimated $4.75 billion is expected to be spent on Halloween nationwide.

Yes, $4.75 billion. That's a lot of candy, lights, plastic pumpkins and Kate Gosselin costumes.

The growing popularity of Halloween as a commercial holiday in recent years is due to the demand for life-size lawn decorations, technological advancements and the growing popularity of costumes for adults, said National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis.

"Adult costumes give a new perspective on how to celebrate Halloween," she said.

Despite national surveys reporting consumers on average will spend $10 less on Halloween this year than in 2008, not all of Lodi is falling in line with the finding. On Friday, customers were streaming in and out of costume stores as final preparations for the ghoulish holiday were being made.

"It's been really good," said Lisa Riva, manager of The Party Guys Halloween Store manager. "Some of it may have to do with Halloween falling on a Saturday."

Riva said customers generally average $70 per purchase. She said the generic costumes, such as cops and nurses, remain favorites, but there are others she couldn't keep stocked on the shelves.

She said the costumes of seminal Nintendo characters Mario and Luigi are the most popular.

"They flew out of here," she said.

The manager, who was clad as a cab driver, said the costumes with horror themes are always popular, but said she noticed a trend with joke costumes gaining influence. She said it offers people a happy escape for a few hours.

Other popular costumes include Kate Gosselin, from the recently canceled television show "Jon and Kate Plus 8." Michael Jackson wigs are also in low supply at the store.

Since this is the Halloween store's first year in operation, Riva couldn't compare figures with previous years.

Becca Boriolo was looking for accessories for her daughters' costumes on Friday. She purchased a nose for her youngest's Minnie Mouse costume and bought a female cop ensemble for her eldest daughter. She said her main concern was finding something conservative. She said she wanted to spend $20 each for her daughters, and met that goal. However, others are irked by Halloween's growing influence, commercialism and excess.

"It started as kids running around," said Mark Vincent, who was strolling along School Street in Downtown Lodi on Friday afternoon. "Now it's about how many tons of candy they can get. Parents help by busing the kids to the denser parts of town."

Vincent said the holiday isn't about going around your community and meeting your neighbors anymore. Instead, it's about spending and partying.

Despite the detractors, Halloween's influence isn't waning.

At The Antiquarium, a window display is dedicated to the holiday. One decoration features a raven perched on a rock constructed of human skulls. A bloody vulture, its face twisted and shriveled, is hatching from an egg a few feet away.

Owner Christi Morris said she isn't selling as many Halloween items as in years past, and that bigger retail stores like Target and Wal-Mart are the biggest reason. She said she bought less Halloween-related inventory this year.

"People do one-stop shopping," Morris said.

At Walgreens on Lodi Avenue, assistant manager Karamjit Singh said his store purchased less Halloween inventory as well. He said that costumes do not account for a large portion of their Halloween sales. Singh said decorations and other items are more popular.

"Candy sells like crazy," he said.

It seems that despite the lack of extra income, people still have budgeted some extra money for Halloween.

At The Party Guys Halloween Store, Mallory Gruber and Kelly Dixon were looking for costumes, but trying to limit their budget to $40.

"I want to spend the least amount possible," Gruber said.

Dixon said she was looking for something fun and generally goes the scary route, rather than dressing more seductively. She said she was looking to go as a zombie or something gory.

The two did intend to celebrate, especially since "falling back" allows for an extra hour of indulgence this year.

"It's cocktails for one more hour," Gruber said.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

This story was updated at 12:10 p.m. Nov. 4, 2009, to correct the name of The Antiquarium.

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  • posted at 6:06 pm on Sun, Nov 1, 2009.


    I love the good nature of halloween because of how families come together and decorate and just do nice fun things

  • posted at 4:16 pm on Sat, Oct 31, 2009.


    Way--- Way over priced just like everything else on School St.



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