On the Friday before Halloween, the pop-up Spirit Halloween store on West 125thStreet was buzzing. Angela Torres, helping her six-year-old daughter pick a costume, said she usually spends “at least $40” on the costume she’ll wear to school and out trick-or-treating.
“She wants to be a princess,” she said.
Elaya Evans was shopping for her 5-year-old daughter, Jayla, and her 3-year-old son, Jayvon. “She is going to be a little Japanese girl,” she said. “He wants to be Spiderman but I can’t find a decent Spiderman.”
Evans, who will take her children trick-or-treating after school Wednesday, said she usually spends $30-$40 for each child’s get-up. “Costumes are expensive,” she said.
This is nationwide retailer Spirit Halloween’s first uptown store, joining more than 1,000 pop-up Spirit Halloween stores across North America, said New York City zone manager Jason Sandlofer.
“We’re the largest in the industry by far,” Sandlofer said. In response to higher demand the company has moved into the New York area this year, opening over 30 pop-up stores.
According to the National Retail Federation, 71.5 per cent of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending a projected $8 billion. This comfortably tops the 68.6 percent of respondents who planned to celebrate the holiday in 2011 and intended to spend $6.86 billion.
Those in the Northeast were most excited about Halloween: 74.4 percent plan to celebrate, spending an average $83.88 on costumes, decorations, candy and greetings cards.
The Harlem Spirit location opened September 22nd and has had steady sales, Sandlofer said.
“Harlem is a really family-oriented area so we do phenomenally well in children’s costumes,” he said. The Monster High and Disney Princess costumes have been particularly popular for girls, while boys favor Avengers characters, or “basically any of the new cartoons,” said Kateri Savory, a store manager. Spirit’s most expensive in-store costume, from the movie “Ted,” is an adult full-body bear suit selling for $89.99.
The weekend before Halloween, the store stays open until 11p.m. and Savory predicted that it would be “crazy busy.”
“It’s usually a lot of lines, barely any space left in the store to walk,” Savory said.
R.J. James, an assistant at the pop-up Ricky’s on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, said that Halloween celebrations get bigger every year, and that the store expected big sales over the weekend and on Halloween itself.
“Ricky’s is famous for having a line out the door on Halloween,” he said. “As long as there’s people walking in, we’ll be open.”
James agreed that children’s costumes were the big sellers. “It’s families that are spending more,” he said.
At Fairway Market on 130th Street, employee Michael Condado was unloading pumpkins and gourds onto a display stand in the parking lot. He estimated the store is selling five to seven oversized carving pumpkins each day. “Mostly mothers buy for their kids,” he said, adding that mini pumpkins with painted faces seemed particularly popular.
But it’s not only children who will be celebrating uptown. A whole industry has sprung up for adults wishing to indulge their childhood superhero fantasies. Several bars are hosting Halloween-themed events, offering spooky drink specials and costume contests.
Although nearly three-quarters of Federation survey respondents said that the state of the U.S. economy would not impact their Halloween plans, Rudy de la Cruz, co-owner of the Washington Heights lounge Apt. 78, thinks it may have some effect uptown. The bar is holding two Halloween gatherings, one with an ’80s feel and live band on Sunday, the second on Halloween itself. He’s hoping partygoers’ costumes will reflect each night’s tone, but he’s not sure that’s realistic.
“With how the economy’s going, I don’t know if people are really going to be able to afford multiple costumes,” he said.
Apt. 78 is turning its regular Que Lo Que party, which features a live traditional Dominican band on the last Sunday of every month, into a Halloween edition. The night is always popular, so de la Cruz expects the bar to fill its 75-person capacity, with lines down the street.
“We’re anticipating for it to be busy,” he said.
However, the Halloween party itself falls mid-week. “Wednesday is a hit or miss,” he said. “You cannot really consume a lot of alcohol.” Still, he considers the venture “a fair price and a fair investment.”
Phuket NYC and Body NYC, two adjacent bars on West 135th Street, decided to throw a joint Halloween party on Wednesday. The $40 per person cover buys two drinks till 11p.m. But, said promoter and party partner Rudy Gametight,“there are people who go by the liter,” which will set revelers back $400. “We’re expecting people to just show up from Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania,” he said.
Gametight said the bars have already sold 100 tickets – but the combined capacity is 1,500 people. “Tickets will be worth more later so we’re asking everyone to buy now,” he says.
Mansi Choksi contributed reporting.