Scary business is booo-ming

  • BRYAN CORLISS / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, October 12, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

By BRYAN CORLISS

Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — Autumn always has been a dead time for Andrea O’Brien’s accounting business. Four years ago she decided to cash in on it.

Now she sells spook spells at Halloween stores.

O’Brien is the owner of Planet Halloween Superstores, an Edmonds-based chain of seven stores that specializes in costumes, creatures and all things creepy.

The stores are only open in September and October, but O’Brien said it’s turning into a full-time gig.

"We work on buying from January to June," she said. "We start receiving (inventory) in June."

When O’Brien started her first store, it was the one Halloween-only shop in Snohomish County. It seems to be an expanding niche market, she said. This year, there are two competitors in Everett: Halloween Supply on Everett Mall Way, and Spirit Halloween, a subsidiary of Spencer Gifts, along Evergreen Way.

Meanwhile, O’Brien has expanded from her Edmonds base with stores in Marysville and Monroe in Snohomish County, along with others around the Puget Sound region.

It’s not your typical retail business, O’Brien said.

For starters, there’s the problem of securing leases. Most commercial landlords are looking for long-term tenants, not someone who will come and go in two months.

Convincing them to lease short term is "difficult, very difficult," she said. "It’s probably the most difficult thing."

And running the stores is different too, O’Brien said. There’s a big entertainment factor involved: Shoppers, children especially, come in looking for a scary little thrill.

O’Brien tries to oblige. Planet Halloween sells an electronic skeleton that "talks," thanks to a wireless microphone. Marysville store manager Dick Petrino said he likes to find out the names of children shopping in the store with their parents, then make the skeleton call out to them.

"The look on their faces is priceless," he said.

Halloween is big business, O’Brien said. It has surpassed Valentine’s Day as the second-most-shopped-for holiday, largely, she maintains, because it’s low-key and fun.

You celebrate Halloween by dressing up and going to parties, and taking your kids to get candy, O’Brien explained.

"You don’t have to have a big family dinner party," she said. "We just have fun. That’s all it is. It’s fun. It’s dress up."

O’Brien hasn’t given up on the accounting business, which her husband handles full time. But the Halloween shops are much more fun, she said.

"It’s much different than a CPA practice," she laughed. "The clients coming in there are not as happy."

Indeed, going to see the accountant … now that’s scary.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.