Monday, October 28, 2013

Signs of the Haunted Holiday

By Richard Etheridge
        If you have driven down the west end of Rivers Avenue, you have seen the massive 10,000 square-foot orange canopy that indicates this fall’s latest incarnation of the holiday store, Halloween Express. When you see the Jack-o-lantern façade, there’s no doubt what is under that tent. Like the costumes we masqueraded in as kids for Halloween, there is more beneath the mask than meets the eye.
 I recently spoke with Jeremy McCay, the manager of this haunted hide away, to see how the Halloween of today measures up to the past.
         “It’s becoming the new Christmas!” McCay asserted when asked how the business is going. This may be an exaggeration, but perhaps by less of a margin than you think.
        Parties and events are popping up all around the historically haunted Charleston area. Everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit. Even with the Economic downturn, the Halloween industry is thriving because people want an escape. During the great Depression the only thing that didn’t’ suffer were movies, alcohol, and cigarettes. People find that escape in  cheap and comfortable thrills like dressing up as a monster and playing a game of hide and seek. Plus, candy is always a treat.
        Television is playing its part, too. In years past, the Halloween fads have been vampire and witches. This year, the latest entertainment sensations are driving sales on different items through the roof. The store’s clientele are flocking to new products dedicated to this year’s latest blockbusters: Duck Dynasty, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an entire section now dedicated solely to Zombies.
People are getting more creative this year as well. Rather than buying the more popular complete costumes, they are getting accessories to make their own personal monster:
         “A guy came in the other day and got a Garth Brooks hat with wig and a Darth Vader mask… He’s making Garth Vader,” McCay told me.
        In the past three years, Halloween Express has forged a place on Rivers Avenue, with 2012 being their best sale year yet, thanks to new management and a highly visible location. Even with their inability to return to their prime location from the year before, the store is still going strong. When the season closes, McCay will return to his daytime job of being an entrepreneur. Zombies, turtles and hillbillies will hibernate for another moon.


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