I love Halloween. I enjoy trick-or-treaters, scary movies, and pumpkin flavored food. However, I enjoy two other October 31-related activities even more. First, I love attending haunted houses. I like getting scared, jumped out at, and chased. Secondly, I love dressing up! I spend way too much money going to Spirit and purchasing a costume while also adding on several unnecessary props. Great fun for me.
But, believe it or not, there is something about haunted houses and dressing up that I enjoy that doesn’t directly relate to the theme of Halloween. Okay, here it goes. Halloween is seasonal. Because of that, haunted house attractions and costume shops such as Spirit aren’t open year-round. Instead, haunted houses are usually in commission for only a month while Spirit stores might operate for three months. With these short spans, they must rent space in shuttered stores.
Most haunted houses and Spirit locations are in old supermarkets, supplies stores, and random strip mall locations. Old out of business stores that shut their doors are brought out of retirement so they can be converted into a temporary maze of screams or a space for folks to spend around $60-$100 on the season’s hottest Halloween costumes. I sometimes think of it as a professional athlete who retires only to come back a couple years later with a new team and diminished skills.
This intrigues me though. For me, there is just something kind of cool and mysterious about a long shuttered grocery store having its locks removed and given a second life. In my head I immediately start to think about how the haunted house crew or the Spirit managers will use the space for something completely different.
I lived in Spokane long enough to visit businesses for years only to see them go out of business and then be reincarnated as a haunted house or a Spirit store. It is kind of a weird feeling because you have memories of the prior tenant and what it used to be. You thought the day would never come when the doors would be opened again. Finally it happens but the reason it does is for a temporary and gimmicky cause. The old store is not going to look nice. It is going to be cold and rugged. It is going to look exactly like someone is camping out there just for a short duration of time (no surprise). It is going to be a shell of its former self. However, when you walk in memories will still surface.
But even if I don’t have history with what a certain building was before a haunted house or Spirit took over I still find myself interested. Especially with Spirit stores, I look past the costumes and temporary lipstick and try to envision where everything was placed when the brick and mortar actually had a tenant that planned to be there for the long haul. With haunted houses you are usually disillusioned as you go through the maze but the thought always goes through my head…people used to walk on these floors to buy milk and bread, now I am scurrying across them at midnight to satisfy my need to be scared.
Does this interest anyone else? Or is just another one of my weird quirks? I also get really excited about old movie theaters that are repurposed into other businesses but that is for another day. When you visit your local Spirit next month be mindful of the history of the building it inhabits. Don’t Blink.