When Joe Marver founded Spirit Halloween in 1983, he probably had no idea that his seasonal Halloween store would eventually grow to over 1,300 locations in the US and Canada. But now seeing a spirit popup in an empty building has become as much a Halloween tradition as carving pumpkins.
To assist customers with Halloween costumes, decorations, and animatronic creatures, Spirit employs a small army of seasonal workers. To get a better sense of what’s behind this creepy calling, Mental Floss contacted several current members of the Spirit Halloween team. Here’s what they had to say about everything from customers wreaking havoc to the dangers of trying on a mask during this pandemic-heavy Halloween.
. Most of the Spirit Halloween employees really love Halloween.
Why accept a seasonal job with no potential for year-round work? If you love Halloween and the macabre it’s a dream job. “I’ve never worked with a coworker who didn’t love Halloween,” Kota, a five-year veteran of Spirit Halloween in Kentucky, told Mental Floss. “It’s something that all employees have in common from my experience … It’s a perfect place to meet people with the same interests.”
2. Spirit Halloween employees should open costume packages for customers.
If a Spirit Halloween employee looks at you with a little dismay, it may be because you ripped open a costume package. Due to issues of damage prevention and hygiene – even before COVID-19 was introduced – Spirit’s policy is that employees open and then repackage items. But not every customer is willing to wait.
“Our employees should deal with opening and closing each individual package,” says Kota. “That way we don’t have to worry about things coming out or going into the packages that are not meant to be. While we try to make it as simple and friendly as possible, some customers would prefer to do it themselves wherever they are in the business. “
3. Spirit Halloween employees cannot keep astronaut helmets in stock.
Each season brings a different phenomenon to Halloween shopping. In 2018 it was the popular video game Fourteen days. This year it’s an astronaut helmet. Not the suit, just the helmet. The trend is due to the popularity of a smartphone game called Between us, which puts the player in the role of a space explorer.
“Despite what you may be thinking, the suits themselves seem to be significantly less popular than the helmets themselves for reasons I don’t understand,” Derek, a three-year Spirit Halloween New Jersey employee, told Mental Floss. “It’s a little early to say anything, but if the helmets continue to be shipped as quickly as they are, the store inventory will likely remain near zero. If I remember correctly, all of the stores near me currently have one helmet, and no more than five are shipped to any store. “
4. Spirit Halloween employees can’t believe customers are still trying on masks.
Despite newly discovered concerns about touching surfaces or exposure to infectious particles, customers remain willing to try masks on in-store, even if they may have been worn by someone else. “Ultimately, the pandemic didn’t affect my store other than making everyone wear face masks while they’re inside,” Jayme, a Spirit Halloween Florida employee who has worked there for four years, told Mental Floss. “But people are still asking to try things on and … they still put on masks, even though orange signs everywhere say not to do it.”
Derek agrees. “If you’ve purchased a Spirit mask in any of the past few seasons, there is a very high chance you are one of at least five people who have worn that mask, and that’s a conservative estimate for some of the masks. Despite the rule, I think I’ve seen so many people try on themselves [fictional creepypasta internet character] Jeff the Killer only masked last week. “
5. Spirit Halloween employees saw some scary things.
While a store full of scary costumes and props is a Halloween lover’s dream, some Spirit Halloween staff say that some scary events can take place here too. “An employee and I saw both things sway on the shelves as if someone had walked past them when no one else was in the store,” says Jayme. “We saw a few shadow movements, as if people were hiding behind it [a] Corner. The most funniest [was] at the end of business. One of my coworkers yelled ‘whoo’ and we heard a man’s voice say something in response. It totally freaked him out. It was one of our sound activated slopes [animatronics]. ”
But not all employees sneak out. “As much as I want to say that I’ve experienced something creepy or paranormal, the place is about as creepy as a former Circuit City,” says Derek. Even so, he saw some strange things. “The lights went out at exactly the same time each day for about a month, there were always the occasional inexplicable pop or creak, and some of the hallways got messy a little too quickly. I once worked in the locker room. I sent back a child with a previously unopened, dry morphsuit suit [a full-body spandex outfit] and it came back warm and damp. “
Aside from wet costumes, Derek isn’t going to declare any paranormal activity just yet. “If I see a kid flying through the store, I’ll let you know.”
6. Spirit Halloween employees want customers to stop making a mess.
Because of the nature of the pop-up shops or the excitement about the holiday, customers at Spirit Halloween stores are prone to messing around. Size. “You could have just put each mask neatly back on the racks and half of it will be back on the floor before you could catch your breath,” says Derek. “It seems like everyone is a little proud of the sections they set up and the animatronics they created, and that definitely shows in how we feel when customers mess around with these things.”
7. Spirit Halloween staff would prefer not to use the aisle as a dressing room.
Some customers prefer to try on outfits in the aisle rather than in the locker room, a habit that existed before the current pandemic. (Spirit Halloween dressing rooms are closed this season.) The staff would still prefer you not to try and dress or undress in the middle of the store. “It’s very common to find people, mostly kids, trying on costumes in hallways,” says Kota. “We [did] There are several changing rooms to prevent this from happening, but again, sometimes people would prefer to do things themselves. “
8. Spirit Halloween employees operate a lot of licensed animatronics.
One of the most popular items in Spirit Halloween locations is the life-size animatronics, which provide a spooky atmosphere for home or parties. “Animatronics is one of our best-selling products,” says Kota. “There is a certain group of people who love them and look forward to seeing them every year. Some of our buyers buy them and use them for their haunted attractions. It’s always nice to go up to you and see a familiar face. “
While Spirit offers a number of original animatronic concepts – the Harvester of Souls is among the most popular – customers typically gravitate towards licensed characters, according to Kota. “I noticed that the most popular animatronics engineers are our licensed ones. Pennywise[from2017[from2017’s[ab2017[from2017’sIt]and Sam[fromthe2007s[from2007’s[ausden2007erJahren[from2007’sTrick or treat]were big sellers this year, just like Michael Myers a few years ago. I also noticed that the ones who lag behind at the end of the season are almost always the swinging animatronics. I think they’re interesting, but they don’t sell as often as the others. “
9. Spirit Halloween employees may sell you used animatronics, but you’re in luck.
At the end of the season, Spirit Halloween locations often discharge animatronics that were on display and are no longer in production. “Older animatronics, if I remember correctly, are no longer made and then sold until they are used up,” says Jayme. “We sell the displays at the end of the season. It’s just a matter of putting your details on a waiting list. “
10. Spirit Halloween staff meet a lot of cosplayers.
Spirit Halloween doesn’t just save Halloween customers. According to Kota, cosplayers sometimes pop up looking for the perfect accessory. “Spirit actually gets a lot of cosplayers and personally I think it’s a great place to buy more specific items,” says Kota. “I’m sure we’re getting more cosplayers than I know as some clients like to talk about it and some don’t say much about it.”
11. Spirit Halloween employees receive a steep discount once Halloween is over.
Derek says that between the standard employee discount and the post-Halloween fire sale available to customers, he can go shopping in November and save a significant amount of money. It’s one reason he keeps coming back. “It’s hard to turn down an 80 percent discount during the November sale,” he says. (The regular discount is 50 percent, and employees get an additional 30 percent.) “There’s nothing like rewarding yourself with $ 150 for five or six things after a busy season.”
12. Spirit Halloween employees sometimes get vacation shoppers.
For some customers, a Spirit Halloween store is the perfect place to start shopping for Christmas gifts. “I made a friend with a kid last year who comes in every week to see if we have anything new,” says Kota. “He’s maybe about 7 years old and [he] and I walk around the store almost every time he walks in talking about new things and animatronics we have. His parents then secretly go around buying him animatronics and props as Christmas gifts. It’s so nice to see your love of Halloween all year round. It reminds me of myself when I was his age. “