Store bringing Spirit of Halloween to Alabaster

Published 1:52 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

In early September, a building filled with hundreds of frightening masks, cute cartoon characters and decorations from spider webs to jack-o-lanterns seemed to appear overnight at the Colonial Promenade shopping center.

For about two months, the store will help Shelby County residents decorate their homes for the scariest night of the year and dress up as characters from horror movies and Saturday morning cartoon shows.

The Spirit Halloween store opened its doors in Alabaster for the first time this year, and store Manager Toni Braun said the business has been successful during its initial month.

Every Halloween season, Spirit stores begin popping up across the Birmingham metropolitan area, where they furiously sell all types of ghoulish goods before closing for the year immediately following the holiday.

Spirit is also operating temporary stores on U.S. 31 in Birmingham and in Hoover’s Patton Creek shopping center.

“I believe there are about 1,000 Spirit stores nationwide right now,” Braun said. “They typically open at the beginning of September and close right after Halloween.

“The company opens stores each year as space and real estate becomes available,” Braun said.

The store will provide seasonal jobs for about 15 local employees during its two months of business in Alabaster, Braun said.

“The number of employees really depends on the size of the location, and it usually increases as we get closer to Halloween,” Braun said. “We will probably have about 15 employees here.”

Because the local Spirit stores are only open for about eight weeks each year, store visibility is an important part of the process, Braun said.

The recent closing of the Pier 1 Imports store in the Colonial Promenade provided a vacant building in a high-traffic area for the business.

“We’ve actually wanted to get into Alabaster for quite a while now,” Braun said. “This is such a huge shopping area. It seemed like a great idea for us to open a store here.

“The people here are extremely nice, and we have been doing pretty good business so far,” she added.

In addition to selling costumes and spooky home décor to shoppers across the area, Spirit is also working to bring Halloween to children who otherwise may not have it.

Through the store’s “The Spirit of Children” program, Spirit cashiers ask each customer to make a $1 donation while checking out.

The store then uses the donations to host Halloween parties at children’s hospitals across the country, like the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

“Through that program, we bring Halloween to children who will be in the hospital during the holiday,” Braun said, noting Spirit will bring volunteers to the hospital, along with costumes and goody bags to donate to the children.

Sales at the store, and support for “The Spirit of Children” program, usually picks up substantially the week of Halloween, Braun said.

“The week of Halloween is always crazy. A lot of people wait until the last minute to get their costumes and decorations,” Braun said. “We’ll see how it goes this year.”

“It seems like everyone has been enjoying the displays and costumes we have set up here in the store,” she added.