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As Halloween nears, Crossroads retailers gear up to offer ghoulish garb

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
Updated Oct. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

ABOVE AND RIGHT TOP: Scary clowns seem to be a big hit by the number of available masks on display at Halloween sections of party stores.

How do people plan to celebrate Halloween?

51.4%: Decorate home or yard

45%: Dress in costume

36.2%:Throw or attend a party

33.2%: Take children trick-or-treating

15.1%: Dressing a pet in costume

Source: National Retail Federation news release

Jeanne Fric braced herself as she gingerly tapped a button on Spirit Halloween's floor. And then she waited.

After several tense seconds a large, hairy spider leapt forward, and Fric let out a surprised shriek.

Halloween is the Shiner resident's favorite time of year, and her trip to Victoria was a scouting mission for all things ghoulish.

"My house has already been decorated for two weeks," Fric said on Oct. 9, laughing. "I get excited this time of year."

And Fric isn't the only one.

Seven in 10 people nationwide will celebrate Halloween in some way this year, according to a National Retail Federation news release.

The average person will spend $79.82 on items ranging from costumes to decorations and more, according to the release, while nationwide spending will reach an estimated $8 billion.

Although customers made their way into Spirit since the seasonal store opened at 2702 N. Laurent St., business increased once the early October cold front swept through the Crossroads, said Karri Wilborn, the store's manager.

"I think it just got people into the spirit of the season," she said from behind the front counter. "They felt like fall was here."

Home decor and yard displays were big sellers early on, she said, and "zombie babies" are particularly popular this year.

Demand for costumes will increase through the season's end, Wilborn said, adding that decorative contact lenses, which add another dimension to a costume, are gaining popularity.

And this year they're available in a person's prescription.

Meanwhile at Wally's Party Factory, 5221 N. Navarro St., holiday business began picking up the first week of October, said Louie Miller, the store's manager.

The store hired 11 or 12 new employees to meet with the growing demand, he said, and people don't typically get Saturdays off.

"The season is fun, but it's a lot of work," Miller said. "We're still getting things in, but we'll be getting things in all season."

Halloween might be a busy time for the retail shop, he said, but it's rewarding.

"When the kids come in, their eyes get big, like it's Christmas," he said, smiling. "It's a lot of fun to see people get so excited."

This year brought one change for Wally's as the chain opened "Wicked Wally's," a temporary seasonal location with a focus on costumes, just doors down from its original location.

Elvira's Closet, another Victoria Halloween store, also found itself in new digs this year. The shop relocated from South Laurent Street to its current location at 305 E. Rio Grande St.

As for Fric, her home might be decked out for the season - her yard boasts a cemetery and bloody skeletons - but she isn't done yet. The family needs to finish up their costumes, she said, and an empty tree outside the home is begging for a bit of decor.

Still, she doesn't mind putting some added work into the look.

"I like the decorating and dressing up," she said. "It's all about the kids. We're just having fun."

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