Everyone knows about Spirit Halloween stores, those seasonal pop-ups that pick up short-term leases in abandoned storefronts across our entire nation.
Their wares include animatronic yard clowns, a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos costume, vampire-teeth hair clips and no fewer than seven sexy-nun outfits. And their business model relies on the caprices of economic fortune, occupying, hermit crab-like, the forgotten husks of what were once vibrant businesses but did not make it through the long, hot summer.
You’ve seen the meme: the temporary Spirit Halloween signs photoshopped across notorious structures like Memphis’ downtown pyramid, Buckingham Palace, the White House, Chicago’s Soldier Field — shorthand for any business or other enterprise that is nearing the end.
This Halloween, Spirit stores near us took over retail spaces that once supported stalwars of retail; brands like Bed, Bath & Beyond; Sears; Dollar General; Stein Mart; Shoe Carnival; Pier 1; JC Penney; and AC Moore.
Adjust your stock portfolios accordingly.
Six Spirit Halloween stores have found purchase in empty storefronts in Greensboro and Winston-Salem — none in High Point, but that’s probably because of Furniture Market. Each one represents the shattered hopes and dreams of business owners and the shifting sands of retail.
2811 Battleground Ave.
There’s almost always a Spirit Halloween on or just off Battleground Avenue, where small retail shops compete for attention on a five-lane road. There are two this year, this first one in the Northwest Centre strip mall a couple doors down from TJ Maxx. The Spirit website identifies the spot as a former home furniture store — it was at one time Carolina Home Furniture and Bedding — but Google Street view, captured June 2022, shows an empty shop for lease. The spot has also served as an Intrex Computers, pre-2010.
3367 Battleground Ave.
This second B-ground location is in the corner spot at the Westridge Square shopping center, which in its past life was a Hallmark store and a Colfax Furniture outlet. Trivia: The spot is just a few doors down from what was once Kyoto Fantasy Express, the Japanese restaurant owned by the parents of TCB Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka.
150 Four Seasons Town Center
I admit I have not yet been, but this Spirit store at the Four Seasons Mall sounds like the granddaddy of them all, located in a former Dillard’s department store that measures 148,000 square feet. As far as I can tell, it became available when Dillard’s moved across the mall into the old Belk’s spot in 2016; the Four Seasons Belk closed in 2014.
This begs the question: Would people shop at department stores again if it was just Halloween stuff? Maybe….
2894 Reynolda Road
This spot in the Reynolda Manor shopping center, Between Lowe’s Foods and East Coast Wings, has been a Spirt Halloween store as far back as 2016.
3320 Silas Creek Parkway
The proliferation of Spirit Halloween stores inside shopping malls nationwide could be a whole other story. This one’s a puzzler: It occupies what was once a Pottery Barn, which is a wildly successful chain, inside Hanes Mall, which has always been more vibrant than Four Seasons. It closed about a year ago — an isolated closure, as far as I can tell, but another North Carolina store, in Raleigh’s Crabtree Valley Mall, closed in July. The Raleigh shop moved to Cary; in the Triad, there is still a Pottery Barn at Friendly Center.
2101 Peters Creek Parkway
This spot at the Marketplace Mall, listed on the Spirit website as “next to Hamrick’s,” defies the imaging power of Google Street View. But it’s in the same spot as the Lost in Time Antique Mall and Marketplace Cinemas.
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