News & Trends

The life cycle of a Halloween pop-up store

Posted by: Jenny Westbrook Jenny Westbrook
on October 25, 2012

There’s one thing that comes back to life every Halloween — and I don’t mean zombies, ghosts, or goblins. I’m talking about the Halloween pop-up store. This year, temporary Halloween shops should perform well, with consumers expected to spend $8 billion on the holiday, according to the NRF’s 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight.

But despite its name, a Halloween pop-up store doesn’t just pop up. Spirit Halloween, for instance, which is the world’s largest Halloween specialty store, begins planning next year’s operational strategy the moment this year’s Halloween is over.

We learned a lot more about Spirit Halloween and the life cycle of its operations when we interviewed Frank Pacera, the organization’s Senior Director of Real Estate. He told us about the stringent process Spirit Halloween has developed to locate, open, run, and close nearly 1,000 stores for the 2012 Halloween season. We encourage you to give our podcast a listen for the scoop.

Here’s the index if you’d like to jump ahead to a certain question.

  • 0:30 About Spirit Halloween
  • 1:47 When Spirit Halloween begins preparing for the Halloween season
  • 2:27 The life cycle of Spirit Halloween
  • 4:46 Whether Spirit Halloween goes back to previous locations
  • 5:53 What Spirit Halloween looks for in a location
  • 6:29 How Spirit Halloween sets up its stores
  • 7:06 Challenges facing pop-up retailers that permanent retailers don’t experience
  • 9:17 About the Spirit of Children charity initiative

Or if you’d prefer reading our interview, here’s the transcript.

As Frank explained in our interview, Spirit Halloween’s process requires careful planning, and a large team to scout out temporary leases in strong markets. Lease negotiations typically take about eight months, during which Spirit Halloween also starts ordering inventory, and interviewing, hiring, and training temporary workers. Summers are spent building out the stores, in time to open around Labor Day.

You can see some of the results of Spirit Halloween’s efforts in these photos of Spirit Halloween and the Spirit of Children event that Frank mentions in our podcast.

This year, Spirit Halloween has located 15 of its stores at Kimco shopping centers, including The Shoppes at Rivergate, Pleasant Valley Promenade, Marketplace Square, Riverplace Shopping Center, Renaissance Centre, Woodbury Centre, and Independence Plaza, to name a handful. Kimco has a total of 30 Halloween temporary store deals this season.

If you’re a retailer, how to do you prepare for the Halloween season? Have there been any special challenges or opportunities for you this year?

This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.


What are the retail prospects now, after Sandy? I know it’s too soon to speculate but it seems things are going to be different for awhile.


November 9, 2012

Thanks for reaching out. While we don’t think Hurricane Sandy will shift the longer-term trends in retail sales, in the short term various sectors will be impacted differently within the markets in the path of Sandy. Broadly speaking, retailers that sell essential goods and services will more likely maintain or improve sales, while those offering a more discretionary product will be somewhat slower to recover.

First off, as to lost business time, most landlords and large national tenants – especially supermarkets and general merchandise chains such as Wal-Mart and Target– implemented plans to open shortly after the storm and most locations were open for business within a day or so. Prior to the storm, supermarkets and other food retailers benefitted from consumers stocking up on goods. On balance, those operators may not see much overall adverse impact. Conversely, Last minute Halloween shopping took a hit, and those retailers who serve areas where residents were badly affected by the storm will see reduced spending during the holidays.

Home improvement and hardware stores, such as Lowes and Home Depot, will most likely see an uptick in sales. Discount retailers may also see an increase in sales as residents stock back up on supplies and goods that might have been lost in the storm. What will be tougher to judge is the impact from delays in the distribution and delivery of goods to the store shelves, as much of the infrastructure needed to move merchandise was compromised. We are hoping that the recovery in this area will move swiftly, and businesses will be back on track for the all-important holiday season.

November 9, 2012

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