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Scaring up business
Shoppers hunt frights, delights at costume stores
Halloween 4 WEB
Salli Mesa searches for ideas for the perfect Halloween costume at Spirit Halloween Superstore in Cumming. - photo by Jennifer Sami

At a glance

* Halloween USA
905 Market Place Blvd., Cumming
(770) 886-5867,

* Party City
1150 Market Place Blvd., Cumming
(770) 205-0423,

* Spirit Halloween Superstore
1350 Market Place Blvd., Cumming
(678) 965-6691,

For one day, anyone can be a millionaire or a rocket scientist or politician or professional athlete.

The prospect of escaping reality may help explain the nearly a 6 percent increase in people planning to celebrate Halloween, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

Anxious consumers “may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to forget the stresses of daily life and just have a little fun,” said Tracy Mullin, the federation's president.

That could also be why business is booming for three Halloween specialty stores within a quarter mile of each other in Cumming.

Spirit Halloween Superstore, Party City and Halloween USA are separated by pavement and parking spaces, but each has found its niche in Halloween, one of the busiest holidays for retailers.

And for local costume-seekers like Julie Martin, a self-proclaimed “Halloween nut,” the more options the better.

Martin shops at several stores to accommodate her large annual bashes.

“I have a big party every year at our barn and decorate our stable and have a bunch of kids come over,” said Martin, who lives in Cherokee County not far from the Forsyth line.

“It reminds me of being a kid back when I used to dress up and my parents had parties like this. It’s just a lot of fun to try to be somebody else.”

Leif Lingerfelt, manager of Halloween USA, said he is prepared for a spike over the next couple weekends, particularly with Halloween falling on a Friday this year.

“The Saturday after Halloween we anticipate being busy, because a lot of the adults are going to come in and buy costumes for their parties that Saturday night,” he said.

Lingerfelt said the store is No. 2 in sales for its district of Halloween USA, which is under the same parent company as Party City.

“I think we do pretty good because we’re the first Halloween store you see when you pull in [off Hwy. 20]," he said. "They’ll come here and if we don’t have something, we’ll send them to Party City.”

Indiana Jones costumes are Lingerfelt’s best sellers, with the traditional Star Wars costumes a close second. Despite their box office success, Batman and Iron Man costumes haven’t fared well, neither has the store’s pirate section.

Luke Black, manager at Spirit, said sales have been "picking up every week as we get closer and further into October.”

“Every weekend we get better in sales,” he said.

In addition to aisles of costumes and decorations, spooky scenes of ghastly ghouls, monsters and skeletons greet visitors to Spirit.

“People really enjoy coming here and looking at [our decorations] and end up buying things,” Black said.

The Cumming location is one of more than 600 nationwide, which open around Labor Day and close the first week in November.

This is the first year Party City has had company, as both Halloween USA and Spirit have not previously had a Cumming location.

Manager Robin Forney said the competition hasn’t had much of an impact.

“Because we’re a year-round store, we don’t have to take the higher price from the manufacturer,” she said. “We have deals with them year round.”

Stacy Lavictoire, a Party City spokeswoman, said 70 stores in Georgia and Florida fall under the company's 500-store Party umbrella, including Halloween USA.

“They are more costume oriented, while we are the more bigger picture store with everything you need for Halloween,” Lavictoire said.

Halloween is by far the busiest holiday season for the party store, Lavictoire said, with a sales increase of about 15 to 20 percent.