Preparing for a spooky holiday

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – You have 10 days left to get your Halloween costume.
But many Northeast Mississippians have been shopping all month for their perfect look.
John Wood, owner of Halloween Headquarters, said the temporary store next to Hancock Fabrics has averaged about 1,000 customers daily since it opened in September.
“At this point, I’ve been extremely happy,” he said.
Seven in 10 Americans will participate in some kind of Halloween activity, according to the National Retail Federation. It’s the highest participation rate since the NRF started doing the survey 10 years ago.
Consumers are expecting to spend more too. The NRF survey said the average person will spend $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $72.31 last year, with total Halloween spending expected to reach $8 billion in the U.S.
About 45 percent of the respondents said they plan to dress up this year – good news for the region’s costume vendors.
Witches, vampires, princesses and superhero costumes are the most popular nationally, according to NRF.
In Northeast Mississippi, Wood said he’s seen a variety of costumes selling.
“It’s not any one big thing this year,” he said. “A lot across the board.”
He said Power Ranger costumes have made a comeback this year for boys.
Indeed, 4-year-old Anderson Shoemaker is dressing up as a blue Power Ranger. His mom, Nanette, said he’s trying to convince her to be a pink Power Ranger.
“He wants somebody on his team,” she said.
Nanette Shoemaker also was shopping for a rock star costume for her tall, 10-year-old daughter, Kendall.
“Finding the right costume – an appropriate costume – is a dilemma,” she said.
Cute monster costumes have been hot sellers for women and teens at several of the costume stores in Tupelo, such as Halloween Headquarters, Costume World and Party Works.
The costumes are in neon colors and include a furry hat with big eyes and sometimes horns. Some have furry, fox-like tails and furry, knee-high leg warmers.
Carolyn Shelby, owner of Costume World at Crosstown, said neon, candy-inspired costumes also are popular for female teenagers and women. They play off singer Katy Perry’s fanciful outfits. Shelby said customers are pairing them with bright, neon wigs and leggings.
“Teenagers are having a fit over the colors,” she said.
Elvis costumes also sell out quickly in Halloween Headquarters, as do prison jumpsuits printed with “Mississippi Department of Corrections.” And Wood said he’s had success with stocking more plus-sized costumes in his stores for men and women.
Shelby said her collector’s edition masks continue to sell well this year. She’s had to reorder the masks modeled after the band Slipknot. The masks are thicker than regular masks and are meant to hold up for several years.
Masks for Michael Myers, Chuckie, the Living Dead and the Goat from Hell also have sold well this year.
“You’d be surprised how many collectors there are,” she said.
Male customers typically buy the masks, while her female customers this year are leaning toward the monsters or sexier costumes, such as the Lusty Leopard outfit that comes complete with boots and a hood.
Shelby’s store is smaller than Wood’s temporary store, but she said she competes by offering personalized dressing services and free alterations on costumes sold in her store.
At Party Works, the walls are lined with pictures of the costumes available for customers to try on. Employee Paula Chunn said superheros have been popular so far.
“We have a blast during Halloween,” she said. “We get to meet all kinds of people coming in. … It gets hectic.”

Click video to hear audio