Oct 4, 2010 8:10 PM by Zach Thaxton
Halloween superstores are helping to fill a void left behind by big-box retailers that have abandoned retail space across the region. Six such stores are now providing costumes to shoppers and a million-dollar boost to the local economy.
New Jersey-based Spirit Halloween has three stores in Colorado Springs this year. The stores operate for 8 weeks and occupy vacant retail space for several more weeks as they set up and take down displays and inventory. Senior Vice President Tony Detzi toured the Front Range locations Monday. "This year we have 870 locations nationwide and we're in 46 states," Detzi said. Spirit Halloween scouts large cities for empty, visible retail space to set up business. "The Circuit Citys that went dark last year and the Linens 'N Things afford us the best opportunity because it gives us a big street presence," Detzi said.
The former Circuit City at North Academy Boulevard and East Platte Avenue is one location being utilized by Spirit Halloween. Ironically, the store manager and district manager both worked in the same building when it was Circuit City. They're among dozen people benefitting from temporary employment at Spirit Halloween. Blocks away and within eyesight, Halloween City occupies a former Burlington Coat Factory. Overall, more than 100 temporary employees are working in Halloween superstores in Colorado Springs. Their presence provides a quick, significant boost in sales tax revenue. Colorado Springs Interim Sales Tax Manager Karen Garcia says that Halloween "pop-up" stores accounted for four-tenths of one-percent of the city's overall sales tax revenue in 2009. Although it's a small percentage, Garcia says it's a significant amount considering the fact they only operate in a half-dozen locations for approximately 60 days. "I estimated it was $1.6 million in taxable sales -- the revenue that these stores have generated," Garcia said. "$1 million in sales? That's pretty good."
Not only are the stores providing a revenue boost, they're also generating foot traffic which benefits neighboring businesses. "We afford a good opportunity for that landlord to fill that space, albeit just for a couple months," Detzi said. He says he has received followup correspondence from some landlords. "They told me when they got closer to Halloween and the parking lot was full, it made a prospective permanent tenant sign the deal," said Detzi.