Today I went out and bought my Halloween costume. Since I graduated college, finding a costume for Halloween has been much more fun. No longer do I have to rely on my old Fred Flintstone costume that I wore for the first time in HIGH SCHOOL for a school dance to get me by the holiday. Now that I have a decent job, I can choose to be pretty much whatever I want to be. Bye bye handmade Fred costume with 50% of the black spots fallen off.
My date’s mom made it for me when I was a senior in high school. Wore it three times in college.
As do many people in this nation, I have gone to Spirit the past three years to buy my costume. If you have never gone or heard of a Spirit before, it is a seasonal Halloween retail chain that sets up shop around the United States in various locations at the start of October. They sell costumes that cater to both adults and kids and their product is usually very up-to-date on the current trends and pop culture (they had Gaddafi stuff there today). They have a large online presence as well.
In Missoula, and in many other places as well, Spirit does business from whatever out of business former retail location that happens to be available. Each of the past three years, the Spirit in Missoula has been in a different location. Spirit stores really follow the cliché of “putting lipstick on a pig.” Although they make the place as festive as they can and add in as many interactive goblin/ghost/vampire type lifesize exhibits, the store always looks dumpy and grim. Spirit banners are slapped around on the outside of the building, usually with the name of the previous storefront still visible. Inside, temporary racks are brought in to hold many of the costumes. The lighting is bad and there is a distinct smell that makes it obvious that the store had not been inhabited for quite a while. A cheap fold out card table acts as the place to go to get access to the dressing room area which consists of a lot of pipe and drape. Handwritten signs are present all over the store warning customers not to try on costumes outside of the dressing room area. The store floor is covered with fallen down and discarded costumes, masks, and hats.
One of the exhibits at Spirit.
Obviously, Spirit really does not need to improve the dingy store atmosphere because every time I go in there the place is absolutely packed. And although I am not a big fan of crowds when it comes to a store setting, I actually like the vibe I get when I go into Spirit. People are excited to be in there. They know it is their lead up to the one night (or two nights, or for some, three nights) where they get to escape reality and dress in something totally ridiculous so for the most part there is an aura of anticipation and excitement circulating throughout the store and I like that. I definitely buy into the same feeling that everybody else has and I enjoy myself when I am in there.
One thing that always jumps out to me about Spirit is the primary age demographic of the cliental. At least 80% of the people in there are adults. I think of Halloween as primarily a holiday for kids but I guess what you think is not always what is reality. I think maybe Spirit itself is more of a place for adults (although like I said above, they do have tons of costumes for both adults and kids) while places like Wal-Mart are more for kids. Spirit definitely has plenty of costumes that bring sexual themes and innuendo into direct focus. They have costumes that…well….just let me say….I love to see girls wearing on Halloween night. They also have many violent and gory costumes. So maybe my observation is not really the result of a dramatic shift in the age demographic of who is celebrating Halloween but rather the product that is being sold at the certain store.
One thing that I tend to overlook at Spirit is really how shitty the costumes are relative to their price. The average costume in that store runs between $40-$50. The cost it took to actually produce most of these costumes has to be around $10. They do a great job of making the costume look great on the label of the package but once you take it home and open it up, you will shake your head. I am not kidding, there is not a lot of thought and care that goes into making them. Before buying a costume, always read what is actually included. The model on the picture label will be decked out in accessories that the manufacturer would never think about including in the actual costume package.
For night two of Halloween last year I was a pirate. The sword was not included with the costume.
That is another way on how I am a sucker for Halloween. I am never content with just buying the actual costume. I have to buy the accessories too. You see, when you go out to the bars on Halloween night, you need to have something in your hand (besides your drink) to make you standout. Whether it be a gun, sword, bat, fake animal, etc. it just adds to the fun. I definitely fall for the marked up accessory prices and go all out.
I was a gangter for night one of Halloween last year. No need to have a snake, but I could not resist.
So despite my complaining about the atmosphere and the actual product, I love buying my Halloween costume. I don’t mind walking around in a makeshift seasonal hell hole and being ripped off solely because Halloween is so much fun. I am not going to give away what I am being for Halloween this year although I must say it was a very tough decision. So tough that I will probably, just like last year, end up buying a second costume (one costume for this Saturday and then another one for the actual Halloween date on Monday). Costumes that were finalists for me today but did not make the cut include a pharaoh, a ghostbuster, and Caesar. It took me forty-five minutes inside the store to make up my mind.
I hope everyone has a successful experience purchasing their Halloween costume. My advice is to be what you want to be! Spend the extra money for a costume that you have your heart set on. Halloween only comes once a year. Good luck and here’s to a great 2011 Halloween! Don’t Blink.