For some vacant properties in Gainesville, the Halloween season can be a treat.
At least two costume companies have taken out short-term leases and set up shop in otherwise-empty locations around town.
Halloween Megastore opened in an old furniture store on the corner of 13th Street and 23rd Avenue at the beginning of September. Simply Halloween is set to open soon in a former textbook store at the corner of 34th Street and 20th Avenue.
Dan Drotos, a Bosshardt realtor who helped broker the deal with Simply Halloween, said short-term leases can benefit the community as a whole. A temporary vendor can capitalize on good locations and seasonal demand, and “the landlord gets some traction in a property that was otherwise vacant.”
“I think it’s a win-win for both parties,” he said.
Over at Halloween Megastore, manager Cesar Kakol said the store hasn’t seen many sales yet, but it has attracted a significant amount of foot traffic from browsers.
“People are getting ideas,” he said.
But Kakol said low sales are not spooky for business prospects — in fact, it’s to be expected.
“The profit, the money, is usually the last two, three weeks of October,” he said.
Kakol noted that opening ahead of the heavy demand builds awareness of the store so that when people are ready to spend money on costumes, they’ll know where to go.
The Gainesville store has six employees now, but as business ramps up, Kakol said it could hire up to 15.
For the last two years, Halloween Megastore has set up shop in the Oaks Mall, but this year, he said the company decided to try something different by renting a highly visible box store.
It’s part of a chain that has about 20 stores across the state. In November, he said, most of the stores will close, and the unsold merchandise will be shipped to Halloween Megastore warehouses to be reorganized for next year.
Amanda Kropff, an Ocala community college student, browsed around the aisles on a recent Friday afternoon with the striped dress and wide-brimmed hat of “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie character Ms. Freddy Kruger in hand.
“I saw the store the other day, and I’m really crazy about Halloween,” she said. So she and her best friend decided to drive up and check it out.
Kropff said she chose to buy a prepackaged costume instead of piecing one together because it was convenient, and she didn’t mind paying a little more for it at a store with a wide selection.
“Halloween costumes are generally pretty expensive,” she said. “And they have so many options.”
And while customers are pleased with the options offered by temporary Halloween stores, property owners such as Saul Silber, the landowner who leased to Halloween Megastore, are pleased with the rental options as well.
“They provide a little bit of income for the landlord while he looks for the correct [long-term] tenants,” he said.