Halloween wars: Pop-up shops threaten NJ’s year-round stores
Noticing more orange and black along your work commute? It's that time of year again for pop-up Halloween shops to take over vacant retail space throughout New Jersey, only to disappear shortly after Oct. 31.
Halloween City and Spirit Halloween, the state's primary pop-up chains, have nearly 75 locations dotting the Garden State this year, serving customers in every county except Essex and Salem. Spirit Halloween has increased its number of New Jersey stores by 13 over the past two autumns.
Given the stores' locations on heavily-traveled highways, they offer a convenient stop for busy parents and costume-hunting teens. But not everyone is a fan.
According to Steven Eisenman, owner of year-round retail chain Party Fair, temporary Halloween shops have significantly cut into their business this time of year since the middle of last decade. Overall, Halloween sales have dropped by about 25 percent among the East Windsor-based chain.
"Typically, Halloween was our Christmas; now it's just another season," Eisenman told New Jersey 101.5.
Eisenman said the impact on his business was even greater before Superstorm Sandy. In 2012, the storm essentially canceled Halloween in New Jersey and the specialty shops took a big hit, forcing them to take a more careful approach when choosing locations.
The temporary chains won't open their doors in the same shopping center as a Party Fair, Eisenman said, but he has had a few operate right across the street.
"Then it becomes a war," he said. "And it's not a fun war. They'll put somebody on the side of the road, I'll put two people on the side of the road. They'll put a big inflatable up, I'll put a truck up."
To handle the increased competition from pop-up shops and big box retailers, Eisenman said his stores have "gotten a lot sharper with pricing."
"We have no choice," he said. "There's just too much competition out there."
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.