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Those scary Halloween pop up shops…


Each year goblins and ghouls come out to un-nerve our senses (and empty our wallets)

Uh-oh, it’s nearly that time again… not long now ‘till you’ll open your front door to grinning kids (and sheepish guardians) dressed in all manner of gory and ghoulish outfits. Yep, next Tuesday is Halloween. I thought this used to be a peculiar American thing, kind of puzzling to the rest of us. But over recent years it has become a big event (and big business) in Australia too. Um, did I just say “American” and “peculiar” in the same sentence ??? Ha !!!

It seems US Halloween-ers are quite fanatical about 31st October – they will spend extraordinary effort (and dollars…) on their decorations and costumes. “In the rush of Halloween costumes, more than 174 million Americans are expected to see an average of $86 fly out of their wallets…. total spending is likely to hit $9.1billion”# And because it’s so seasonal (only once a year), it is a huge opportunity for pop up sales.

I’ve discussed Halloween here a couple of times before… back in 2103 – Halloween madness – I said “this US phenomenon hasn’t quite taken off in Australia (thank goodness !)…” But maybe I spoke too soon about the Halloween shops… several large Australian retailers now offer ghastly / ghoulish ranges – Target Australia, BigW, Spotlight and Lombard amongst them (and every $2 shop / variety discount store has tables groaning with masks, capes and morbid make up…)

A few weeks ago I saw the first report of specialty Halloween pop up shops opening here in 2017 – a Canadian business has four temporary stores in Melbourne. The Herald Sun newspaper reported that stores would open in 3 suburban shopping areas as well as a CBD store. Why Melbourne though ? Halloween Alley owner Richard Pierson was quoted saying they “were looking to expand, and Australia was the obvious choice…. We heard that Melbourne likes to party, plus Australians have the sense of humour to go all out with their costumes…”*

Another online article discussed the pitfalls of buying costumes at Halloween pop up shops – “one of the biggest issues is that pop-up stores come and go so quickly that by time you notice a problem with something, the store is already gone…most pop up stores don’t have a website, so there’s no way to touch base with the company if there is an issue”# The article suggested asking how long the company will be on the ground before purchasing anything, ask what the store’s return policy is – and “always make sure what’s inside your costume box matches the outside picture”

Just after Halloween comes another (foreign) annual celebration – does anyone else remember Guy Fawkes Night – bon-fires, pinwheels and penny-bungers on 5th November ? Luckily in Australia we don’t really acknowledge that anymore (in 1982 the Victorian government finally banned the sale of fireworks, and effectively killed off our Cracker Night). But in the UK it is still a popular community event (it is, after all a celebration of Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the British Parliament and assassinate King James 1) – nowadays it’s “mostly run by local charities and other organisations with paid admission and controlled access”^ And of course, there are now pop up shops opening to sell fireworks, even from a converted truck parked on the side of the A127 Motorway.

If you’re not really into Halloween or Cracker Night I suggest hiding inside your house (with the front gate locked, porch light off and ear-plugs in…) on 31st October AND 5th November. But it won’t be that easy to avoid the next up-coming pop up season – pretty soon you’ll be seeing loads more temporary stores opening for the Christmas sales… not just decorations but all kinds of gifts and paraphernalia on offer. And then the guy with his fireworks truck will be back selling crackers in time for New Years Eve !


# source : costume scams

* source : Alley temporary Melbourne stores

^ source :    wikipedia/Guy Fawkes Night


Halloween Alley Melbourne 2017

Halloween map

A127 Motorway fireworks truck


images : Halloween Alley,,

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