BRIDGEPORT — Everyone’s favorite costume pop-up store has returned to Meadowbrook Mall in Bridgeport.
Spirit Halloween, the one stop destination for everything scary, spooky and fun, set up in the mall’s parking lot in mid-August in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.
The national franchise, which is owned by Spencer’s, has been setting up its seasonal shop at the mall for the past eight years, store manager Jamie Riffle said.
Although the store carries a wide variety of off-the-rack costumes, Riffle said the store’s employees are on hand to help customers design their own unique Halloween ensembles.
“It’s OK to come in and get a costume that’s in the bag and already there,” he said. “But if you want to make that statement for the year, we usually help achieve that by telling them about the different accessories.
Riffle said they aim to help customers create costumes that stand out and leave a lasting impression.
“We specialize in the makeup and building costumes for people,” he said. “They come here to get our opinions to help them accessorize costumes. We help them pick the accessories out to make it over the top.”
The store also carries a vast selection of Halloween decor items for both indoor and outdoor decoration, Riffle said.
“Sometimes we kind of decorate their homes for them too,” he said. “They want to know what works best for outside decorating, inside decorating. We have one specific guy who’s in charge of makeup and decor, and he helps people with ideas.”
Riffle said the most requested costume this year is “scary clown,” mainly due to the popularity of “It,” the recently released reboot of the Stephen King horror classic.
Marlene Shelton, the store’s assistant manager, said the secret to creating the perfect clown costume is getting the details right.
“If you come in to get a clown costume, I’m going to show you all the accessories,” she said. “Everything from the nose, the makeup, the weapon they have. We have saws. We have swords. We have everything you want.”
Even if the store doesn’t have a particular item, its costume experts can easily order it, Shelton said.
“If we don’t have it in stock, we do have our kiosk,” she said. “We look it up and if they have it, we can either order it and have it sent here or have it sent to their house.”
While the store’s customers range in age from children to adults, Riffle said he often sees people come in who say they look forward to Halloween all year.
“We get a lot of people who are just crazy about Halloween,” he said. “Christmas isn’t their thing, but Halloween is. They come in and they go crazy.”
Riffle said he has seen customers spend as much as $500 achieving their perfect costume.
“They say it’s their Christmas, that they usually celebrate more for Halloween,” he said.
In addition to helping customers find the perfect costume, the store also collects donations for WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital through a program called “Spirit of Children.”
When checking out, patrons are asked if they want to donate to the cause, Riffle said.
“Last year, we raised $23,600 from just this store,” he said. “They use the funds that we are able to give them for supplies and things that they need that they can’t achieve on their own.”
Chloe Swiger, a 5-year-old who was shopping on a recent afternoon with her father, said she was looking around to get ideas for her costume.
Last year Swiger said she dressed as a “zombie butterfly,” but was looking for something different this year.
“I want to be a skeleton,” she said.
The store will remain open until Nov. 2, Riffle said.
“The first and the second are going to be 50 percent off days,” he said.
Many customers use the post-season sale to go ahead and get ready for next year’s Halloween, Riffle said.
“They’ll get costumes for the next year that they have their heart set on but they didn’t get that one and a lot of decor items,” he said.