Ask any Halloween fanatic and they will tell you that the Halloween retail season creeps in mysteriously in July, just after fireworks and jello salad. It roars to full life in August, and #CodeOrange alerts fly fast and furious on Instagram. Fiends ask me why Halloween would start so early. Well, because Christmas retail is in full swing my Oct. 1, so it bumps the second most profitable holiday to July (online only) with a very short brick-and-mortar appearance. Retailers seem to have just figured out that Halloween fanatics are voracious consumers and shop online. But do so early or risk the three dreaded words: Out. Of. Stock.
I too have quietly been shopping since July and below are some of my treasured finds and soul crushing out of stock items. By September the best items are usually gone even before some stores (ahem, Target) even bother to put out candy corn. To get started I have a short video with my hot takes:
One the most inspired Halloween collectibles landed at Cracker Barrel which doesn't really exist in Northern California (or has been burned to the ground by wildfires). This Resin Ghost with Lantern was a shop exclusive and sold out as early as June. At $50 a piece, I was surprised how quickly it went but its a pretty great piece. A sheet seems to have flown off the laundry line and got caught on the shape of something really spooky. The Cracker Barrel reps said the piece will be back next year, and knocks have appeared on eBay and Amazon (shipping directly from China).
Over at Bath and Body Works, Halloween has some interesting, glammy items. I especially liked their Wallflower fragrance plug-in shaped like wicked plant conservatory. With lit pumpkins, interior scenes, and a projected bat and moon (!) this was quite a stunning piece. I can't believe they charged $35 (!!!) for plug-in air freshener, and some people paid it. I did, I do not regret it, and it's stunning.
Spirit Halloween finally opened and with it came the best line animatronics, including a skeleton that knocks Home Depot's skeleton out of the water. There appears to be many licensed product lines including all the horror standards (It, Trick 'r Treat, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street), along with several Disney properties including Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion products are flying off the shelves and mostly sold out online. A manager said that they second she unpacks something and puts it on the shelf, it's sold moments later. I've been circling my store like a vulture and FINALLY nabbed this cool plaque!
And finally over at Home Depot, the 12-Foot Skeleton was completely sold in July, but their site also lists a really spooky Rotten Patch line (also sold out) featuring a smaller, greenish skeleton with a pumpkin head, and the Scarecrow Pumpkins (below). These are a good-sized pumpkins "wrapped" in dingy burlap with "rope" accents, and weighted so they don't blow away in the wind. I finally found one in my local store, although a manager said they got very little Halloween stock since everything was sold through online. They're not even advertising Halloween locally.
And finally as a friendly reminder, independent, small businesses are the best places to find unique and one of a kind Halloween treasures. If your town is not lucky enough to have such a place, there are places online to find handmade horror and creepy decor! On Etsy, many artisans will even customize projects for you. Always make sure to ask if you are interested in something special. Check out my Sinister Shops page for more!