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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Spirit Halloween Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Flagship Store’s Annual Grand Opening [Event Report]

Spirit Halloween is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the enthusiasm surrounding the retailer couldn’t have been more clear than during the annual grand opening of its flagship store in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. The parking lot of 6725 Black Horse Pike was literally filled to the brim on the morning of July 29 with families, enthusiasts and even cosplayers eager for their chance to see what Spirit has in store for this Halloween season. You may be thinking: It’s not even August yet, is it really time to start decking the halls with boughs of horror?

“I do not call Halloween a holiday–I call it an event,” says Steven Silverstein, President of Spirit Halloween. “And we are very much a part of that event.”

I managed to catch up with Silverstein as he jovially greeted guests, rallied his team for the incoming waves of shoppers, and even kept track of merchandise–occasionally toiling in and out of the stockroom to help replenish as needed. It immediately became clear to me that Silverstein fully embodies the “Spirit” part of the company’s moniker. “I look at the 40th anniversary as a big milestone for us. To have not only this kind of longevity, but this level of enthusiasm into your 40th year…it’s a very special story to tell,” he says.

Outside of the store, Spirit fans mingled about, waiting on their turns to enter the store. A variety of vendors attended to serve guests, like Hayday Coffee, Butterfinger, and Pirate Pete’s Soda, and even a Tarot Card reader. One Spirit team member informed me that by Friday morning at 8:00am, there were already 200 people that had shown up for the opportunity to be the first customers in the store when it opened at 11:00am on Saturday. And the main thing that these first shoppers tend to lunge for first?

“Every year we do a whole different array [of merchandise],” says Silverstein. “But animatronics tend to be the star of the show early on.” At the very front of the store to greet guests was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Leatherface, which ended up being the main photo op when guests did gain access to the store. “The kids love to come in and interact with the animatronics–and that’s really part of the magic of Spirit Halloween. People ask: Why brick & mortar? Well, brick & mortar creates a really immersive experience. This isn’t about clicking and buying–this is about coming in and having fun!” says Silverstein.

As the 11:00am grand opening approached, the energy in the store was palpable as Spirit employees braced themselves for the ribbon cutting. As Silverstein ventured over to the team of cashiers armed with a motivational pep talk, it gave me a chance to tour the store and this year’s merch. Spirit has demonstrated that it has a pulse on the biggest horror hits in the past year. Fans of Netflix’s Wednesday will be excited to see a selection of gothic merch inspired by the show, and Wednesday’s outfit itself. I was excited to see an end-cap full of Hocus Pocus themed mugs, and it took everything in me not to try and buy a Ghostface “Killer Keepsake” on one of the shelves. Spirit even foresaw the success of Barbie and included Barbie and Ken’s outfits in the lineup, which will surely appear in a myriad of TikTok dance trend videos.

When the time finally came for the opening, I positioned myself near the front door of the store, but out of the way enough to avoid being trampled by any enthusiastic guests. A countdown ensued, and before I knew it, the entire store was full of horror fans not only shopping, but trying to document on their phones and cameras what Spirit is offering this year. The Spirit team member had prophesied correctly–shoppers seemed to immediately gravitate toward the Killer Klowns from Outer Space animatronics, to the point that 10 minutes in, I already saw Spirit employees wheeling out additional boxes of merchandise.

Occasionally, a bell would ring out intermittently among the chatter of the shoppers. Prior to opening, Silverstein explained to me that the bell rang every time someone made a donation to their charity organization, Spirit of Children, which Silverstein referred to as the heart of the brand. Spirit of Children supports the Child Life departments of local partner hospitals with 100% of every dollar donated going toward the charity.

Spirit Halloween 40th Klowns

Last year, Spirit had donated “Halloween Care Packages” to over 100 local hospitals that included things like costumes and treat bags for kids. Despite being a huge fan of Spirit over the years, I’d never heard of Spirit of Children, and hearing Silverstein’s passion towards it really made me appreciate the organization even more.

Getting a sneak peak of Spirit’s lineup this year has ignited my appetite enough that I’m positive I’ll be taking multiple trips leading up to Halloween. But in addition to the merchandise, seeing the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by Silverstein and his team reinforced the fact that Spirit really is something special.

You may be familiar with the online meme where people photoshop a Spirit Halloween sign onto a business or entity that recently closed or went defunct, as a testament to how quickly new Spirit Halloween stores tend to crop up. I asked Silverstein his thoughts on the viral joke.

“I think the meme speaks to the personality of the brand. We like to look at that as a sign of respect: we bring life, and we create life. When Spirit opens up, it’s a great attraction.”

Spirit Halloween 40th grand opening

Spirit Halloween 40th anniversary

The post Spirit Halloween Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Flagship Store’s Annual Grand Opening [Event Report] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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