Spirit Halloween: A History and Experiences

The #1 Halloween Retailer


We all know Spirit Halloween, the franchise that pops up in empty department stores in late September/early October and then disappears without a trace November 1st. But what really is going on there? How can a company only open one month of the year have profitable margins? Are the $60+ costumes worth it? I asked these questions and many more, and took it upon myself to find some answers.

Before stepping foot in the store I decided to do some preliminary research. First, I found it interesting that Spirit Halloween searches for stores from basically January-August, so in the off season the company is still working pretty hard. Additionally, the reason that they can always find a store is because once large retailers like Kohls or Sears go out of business there are very few other companies with the quantity of product and money to move into those large spaces. So why is Spirit so successful though? First, Spirit Halloween crafts an entire consumer experience, with the store having different themes each year which are portrayed through music or decorations. Also, because the store closes and reopens every year, they have the ability to change and reinvent themselves constantly, for example, with the different themes or with new products. After a few years of this, of course Spirit Halloween became the name it is today.

Mia Matthews sporting a Morty facemask.

Anyway, with last Friday being an e-learning day, I decided to use the day productively. I met up with fellow seniors Mia Matthews and Phoebe Covode to get some finishing touches for our costumes. While I had already ordered the majority of my costumes on Amazon, as I’m more of a DIY costume person, I still ventured in to see if I could find any last minute accessories. Upon entering the old BI-LO of Mount Pleasant, I was immediately overwhelmed with loud music and countless costumes. I tried to work my way systematically to the back of the store, but it was very easy to dart from costume to costume. I do appreciate that the store does put costumes or types of accessories into different sections, so if you have one specific thing you are looking for it’s not difficult to find. I also like that Spirit gives you a variety of different costumes around one theme, for example there were multiple skeleton costume renditions. However, there are some disadvantages to the store. First, costumes are pretty steep, with prices ranging from $25-$60 for a costume. However, once you factor in how much I spent on Amazon for the different parts of my costume, this price is honestly pretty realistic. However, Spirit Halloween will not allow returns past October 22nd, which is a bit extreme given that the people that go to Spirit Halloween rather than buying online have probably already figured out shipping will take too long. Still, these steep prices and horrible return policies do explain why Spirit is successful. Ultimately, I think Spirit Halloween is best suited for last minute accessories, inspiration, or costumes for those with a lot of money and very little time. I did still end up buying one $3 tube of fake blood, and my fellow shopper bought a dress and some tights for her costume.

I also returned to Spirit Halloween on Thursday the 28th. While my costumes had been finalized, some of my classmates were still in desperate need of Spirit wear, including Clay Hershey, Gray Willits, Lilly Praete, and Lilly Claypoole. I liked the North Charleston Spirit much better, because it was slightly smaller and that made it much easier to navigate. With this smaller space I found some items that I had previously missed in the Mt. Pleasant, including some cool gloves and a crown. If you still need a costume, I recommend you head to the North Charleston one because I think the Wando kids cleaned out the Mount Pleasant store.

In order to give a variety of perspectives, I asked some other weekend shoppers what their Spirit experience was like.

Lilly Praete:

The consumer experience includes these fun photo booth moments.

“To set the scene, Raena Patel (Bishop England Senior) and I walked in and were immediately met with the sounds of halloween EDM remixes. Could I tell you what songs they were? No. We adventured to the back of the store to buy some sparkly makeup, but I was not impressed with their stock. We then moved on to find minion goggles, yet they only had them in kids sizes, leaving me extremely disappointed. Still, I grabbed them off the shelf. As we were preparing to head to the checkout, I saw a Micheal Meyers pillow with the word “slay” on it, and let me tell you that made the who adventure worthwhile. When we finally reached the checkout line, the girl checking us out asked which minion I was being, adding a personal touch to the experience. But, the positives at the checkout line were met with their incredibly hard to navigate card swiping system. Overall, the experience earns a 7/10 from both me and my compatriot.”

Phoebe Covode: “It was overall a good experience where you can easily be struck with inspiration. A few cons are that it is slightly overwhelming with the amount of stuff in there and the price of the costumes are very expensive. I’m glad I was able to navigate the store with the help of my friends.”

Will Muirhead: “It was a truly enlightening experience I feel that I’m a much better person for it.”

Sophia Fetten: “It was kind of scary, there was lots of fake blood.” (For reference, Sophia Fetten did in fact buy a bottle of fake blood).

16 fluid ounces of fake blood for $7? What a steal.

Gray Willits: “While the collection of Halloween items was actually pretty good, everything was way overpriced and I was not about to waste money on an overpriced costume that I could make.”