Monday, October 13, 2003, Vol. 117, No. 185

Terry Ramsey, Vice President of RidAll Pest Control

Retailers Expect Strong Sales for Weekend Holiday

ANDREW BELL

The Daily News

Businesses that reap rewards either directly or indirectly from Halloween sales are happy the holiday Americans rank as their second-favorite falls on a Friday this year.

Costume crazy. Each Halloween, nightclubs on Beale Street encourage new business by advertising and hosting costume contests.

This year, owners plan to maximize those marketing opportunities.

We expect this year that Friday (Oct. 31) will feel more like a Saturday night, and Saturday night will feel more like a Friday night, said Eddie King, operations manager at Alfreds, located at 197 Beale.

A few miles away at T.J. Mulligans, 362 N. Main St. in the Pinch District, employees are bracing for a big night not only due to the holiday, but also due to the Memphis Grizzlies opening night at The Pyramid.

The Grizzlies are our biggest draw, our No. 1 priority, said restaurant general manager Penny King. Im sure well dress up for the holiday, but normally (without a Grizzlies home game), we would be pushing that, she said.

Already busy. Some businesses are already reaping rewards from pre-holiday sales.

Barry Lincoln, owner and manager of Mr. Lincolns Costume Shop in Overton Square, said business already is showing signs that the holiday is approaching.

Lincoln doesnt credit the increase in business activity entirely to the fact that Halloween is on a weekend night this year.

I dont know exactly why its better, but I would think that the war pulled a lot of people down over the last year, he said.

He added that consumers are spending more on Halloween-related merchandise than last year, and hes seen more enthusiasm for the holiday.

His biggest costume sellers are related to popular movies from the past year, such as The Matrix Reloaded, The Hulk and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Elvis continues to be a big seller I guess theres not much surprise in that, he said.

At the Trick-R-Treat store at 3124 S. Perkins Road, manager Lisa Hill said business activity began increasing about two weeks ago.

She said costumes based on recent horror film Freddy vs. Jason have been her biggest rental items so far.

Its too early to predict if sales this year will be stronger than last year, she said.

For adults, too. Hill said although Halloween is perceived as a holiday mostly for kids, adults generate the majority of the stores sales.

Parents spend an average of $30 per child for costumes and generally spend twice that amount on themselves, she said.

She said a costume shop cant afford to relax when it comes to getting items on its shelves or to fall behind in marketing. She added that many retailers stay in the know about big sellers by researching trends through a national costume association.

Its a big day, and there are many, many suppliers, she said.

New celebrations. Over the past decade, churches and other family organizations have worked to shift the dynamic of the holiday, encouraging families and children to transform a day generally associated with horror and fright to one of clowns and carnivals.

Theresa Clinton, manager of Party Concepts at 2197 Central Ave. which offers concession stand rentals said an increase in October carnivals and bazaars has been a plus for the business at the store.

A lot of people are going to carnivals now; theyre doing extra things and different things for Halloween, she said.

Class participation. Tammy Ivory, head cashier at the Party City store at 2921 Covington Pike, said she expects business to increase sharply, starting this weekend.

Its going to be busier especially with parties being planned for companies and schools, she said. There are a lot of people organizing parties.

No matter the impact yearly trends, Hollywood films and social shifts have on the holiday, retailers appear to be adaptive, appreciative and unworried.

Halloween is not going away thats for certain, King said.