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How Does the Spirit Halloween Pop-Up Store Work?

By fall, abandoned retail establishments are repurposed by Spencer’s Gifts. Spirit Halloween has built a multimillion-dollar industry out of seasonal pop-up stores. But how does this system work, and does it truly earn enough?

Spirit Halloween, a pop-up store owned by Spencers Gifts, operates in over 1,200 locations each year for about 4 to 8 weeks. They spend the remainder of the year seeking vacant spots for the upcoming Halloween season.

What is Spirit Halloween?

Pop-up Halloween stores can be found throughout the country. They typically start in the latter part of summer or during early autumn. They establish themselves in any vacant retail space that would accommodate them, whether it’s a now-defunct Babies R Us or the first floor of the American Express building.

They then depart a day or two following Halloween, never to be seen or heard of again for another year. 

Joe Marver launched Spirit Halloween in 1983 and quickly expanded the business from a single pop-up location in California’s Castro Valley Mall to 63 locations nationwide. The stores were an offshoot of Marver’s first retail business, Spirit Women’s Discount Apparel.

The initial inventory of Spirit Halloween included a mix of conventional women’s apparel and wigs, cosmetics, and superhero masks. Marver sold the company to Spencer Gifts in 1999. Spencer’s is perhaps most known for its wacky T-shirts and inexpensive sex toys.

Spirit Halloween pop-up store prepares the whole year in anticipation of Halloween.

Pretty much November 1, the minute our door is closed, we are — or actually, before our doors close — we are prepping for the next season.

Frank Pacera, Spirit Halloween Senior Director for Real Estate

(Source: VOX)

How Much Did The Spirit Halloween Pop-Up Store Make?

The seasonal pop-up story turned the holiday into a multi-million dollar enterprise. In 2015, they were able to rake in $400 Million in sales. On average, they make about $250 million each year. (Source: Grow Jo

This Egg Township business provides approximately 1,000 jobs per year and offers a good income for its employees. To date, the estimated annual revenue of its employees is around $227,000.

In 2020, Spirit Halloween opened about 1,400 pop-up stores despite the pandemic. Though there was a reported decrease in the total revenue generated, the company still met its annual average income of about $250 million. (Source: NY Times)

In early 2021, Spirit Halloween also raised about $124,000 to support the Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Spirit Halloween stores generated the amount in just two areas, Rhode Island and South East Massachusetts. (Source: PBN)

Origin of Halloween

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain. Celts, who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, observed their new year on November 1.

This day signified the end of summer and harvest and the start of the dark, bitter winter, a season frequently associated with human death. Celts believed that the line between the living and the dead grew hazy on new year’s eve. They celebrated Samhain on October 31, the night when it was thought that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Christianity had expanded throughout Celtic territories by the ninth century, eventually blending with and supplanting ancient Celtic customs. In 1000 AD, the church designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day, dedicated to remembering the deceased. Today, it is widely thought that the church attempted to replace the Celtic celebration of the dead with a church-sponsored event.

All Souls’ Day was observed in the same manner as Samhain, with large bonfires, parades, and dressing up as saints, angels, and demons. All Saints’ Day was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas, from Middle English Alholowmesse, which translates as All Saints’ Day. The night preceding it, the traditional Celtic night of Samhain became known as All-Hallows Eve and, finally, Halloween. (Source: History)

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