Opinion: What is up with Spirit Halloween?

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Aiden Khazeni/The Occidental

I am absolutely convinced that there is something freaky going on at Spirit Halloween (and no, not just because it’s a Halloween store).

I mean, think about it. Is there any evidence of what happens to those stores after October? For me, it reminds me of a childhood favorite book of mine, “Snowmen At Night.” It’s a cute board book written in 2003 about how snowmen throw a rager once everyone’s asleep, but nobody ever knows, because when the sun rises, they’re just a melted mess.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what happens with Spirit Halloween stores.

Every year around mid-September, these Spirit Halloweens just appear overnight in the most random locations looking like a hot, Halloween disaster. Shelves overflowing with mildly-offensive costumes, over-priced wigs and other assorted scary paraphernalia. Then, the second November begins, it all disappears…

So where does it all go? What happens for the next ten months until this giant company retakes control of various warehouses and previously empty real estate for spooky season? Does it all just get put away, and the workers throw a year-long party like in “Snowmen at Night?”

I think the dream scenario here would look really similar to the plot of the live-action masterpiece “Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed” where the bad guys use a weird machine to turn costumes into real monsters. Just imagine somewhere out there that ‘sexy traffic cop’ is coming to life à la “Night at the Museum” — which actually brings me to my next theory: what if everyone who works at Spirit Halloween is actually a spirit?

The other week my roommate and I ventured to an abandoned Sears in Glendale that had been hollowed out and turned into a Spirit Halloween. It was chaotic as ever, given that the workers 1) were dressed in very elaborate costumes (uniforms?) and 2) all looked like they had recently risen from the dead and hated their jobs. So, perhaps working at a Spirit store is just some kind of ghostly community service where you’re forced to deal with weird couples and angry parents. But hey, at least you get to dress up for work.

In talking to friends about the mysteries of Spirit Halloween, I began to question “Why just this holiday?” Why is there no Spirit Thanksgiving, Spirit Easter or Spirit St. Patrick’s Day? Even the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” makes sure to include all of the various holiday portals. So, what makes Halloween so essential that it needs an entire costume and decoration franchise? I mean don’t get me wrong, I think Spirit Halloweens are incredible, but I’ve also done my fair share of shopping at party stores that only bust out a Halloween section every year which works just as well. It just seems like the CEOs of the Spirit company (whether they be human or not) should spread the wealth a bit.

I’m not quite sure where to go from here on my investigation. The logical choice is clearly to break into a Spirit Halloween on Nov. 1 and disguise myself as a worker to see where all the merchandise goes. Or you know, I could just Google it — so I suppose I should do that and get official confirmation.

This is what I found:

According to the Spirit Halloween official website, they are actually owned by the parent company Spencer Gifts LLC, which is more commonly known as the mall chain Spencer’s — a retailer of gag gifts, fantasy items, band merchandise and sex toys. Spirit Halloween was acquired by Spencer’s in 1999 and routinely brings in half of the company’s annual revenue.

As it turns out, bringing spooky fun isn’t Spirit’s only mission. In 2006, Spirit created its philanthropic branch, Spirit of Children, which raises money for children’s hospitals and strives to bring Halloween joy for kids who might not get to hit the streets to trick-or-treat. The highlight of this, though, is of course that their slogan is that Spirit of Children “puts the ‘fun’ in ‘funding’.”

Now, this is all great information and definitely solves a bit of the Spirit mystery, but I still couldn’t find anything about what happens to all the merchandise. I checked all the websites — even the always-accurate Wikipedia — but still nothing. No proof that the workers aren’t secretly an army of the undead or anything else supernatural… interesting.

I hope reading this has brought back a bit of your own Halloween spirit and maybe inspired you to ponder your own mysteries this year. Whatever you decide to do though, if you for some reason find yourself in the middle of nowhere and a bunch of costumes have come to life around you — I told you so.

Contact Katie Moore at kmoore2@oxy.edu