Halloween Die-ary: September 12, 2018


As soon as I was off work, we were on Halloween. We needed to go gather the final materials to finish off our living room decorations, so we headed to a Halloween shop in the shell of an ex-Toys R Us.

I’ve been reading about this phenomenon of Halloween shops possessing abandoned Toys R Us stores for a few weeks now. Looking at the photos of temporary canvas signs stretched across concrete facades with the faded letters of its previous incarnation peaking around the corners. This guy wrote up a good piece on it.

We pulled into the parking to find it was a Halloween City. Not as good a chain as Spirit, in my experience. Spirit makes its stores a real experience and a lot of fun. But we’d already visited a Spirit this season, so I was excited to explore a new Halloween spot.

We even used an expectant mothers parking spot left over from Toys R Us’s conjoined twin Baby’s R Us. It’s all right. The entire parking lot was empty. And Lindsey’s pregnant.


Inside, it was…sad. Partly, that was because they weren’t done unpacking the merchandise (another difference between Halloween City and Spirit is that Spirit seems to get out of the gate faster as far as set up and opening). Partly it was because the merchandise that was up was spread extremely thin, making for an awkward shopping experience. Mostly, it was sad because there were still remnants of the old Toys R Us store inside. Reversed R wall paper. A white board with a goodbye message still written on it from the Toys R Us staff. The empty spot in the foyer where the dinosaur eggs candy dispenser had been set up that I wrote about so long ago.

Anyway, there’s wasn’t anything for us there, in both senses of the term, so we went next door to Michael’s and got what we needed. And what we didn’t.

And by that latter I mean a skeleton wine bottle holder. I bought this 100% because for the past ten years I have had the same bottle of wine sitting on my desk. It’s called Writer’s Block and it was given to me by Lindsey and I’ve never opened it. I figure nobody can call me an alcoholic as long as that thing’s sealed despite almost always being an arm-length away from me. In honor of its highly unlikely survival, it gets a ceramic skeleton wrapped around it.


After that we wandered the other stores in the strip looking at their Halloween and Autumn merchandise. They all had something—Pier 1, Five Below, Trader Joe’s. Which is part of the beauty of the holidays. Every store is part of the party. I’ll go into stores in September and October (and November and December) that I’d never set foot in otherwise.

Back home, we decided to put off the final decorating because it was probably about an hour’s worth of work and we had dinner to eat and relaxin’ to do. After the kids went to bed, we capped the night by watching half of a five-episode, Halloween-themed anthology series on Amazon Prime called The Witching Season.

It’s obviously an independent production, and the episodes are all between 10 and 30 minutes long. The Halloween ambiance of the opening credits is great and pretty much the entire reason to watch this show. The first two episodes were nothing to overtly recommend, although the second involved haunted stuffed animals that, at the suggestion of my wife, I’m totally going to show to my 8-year-old. That’s going to be a fun experiment.



I’m really thinkin’ about the weekend right now. Thinkin’ about heading north on a road jaunt. Maybe northern New Hampshire or Vermont. See, in about two weeks, Lindsey won’t be allowed to travel farther than an hour from our local hospital.

Because imminent baby.

Sam Hain Ocker, I think we’re going with.




4 comments:

  1. I had a very similar experience this past weekend. Saw a Halloween City had moved into the local Toys R Us, went in to find a very bare bones set-up, still being stocked. One animatronic working. Parts of the floor were even ripped up.

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  2. Sam Hain Ocker sounds like royalty :)

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  3. I have been eyeing that skeleton wine bottle holder at Michael’s for weeks. I need to pull the trigger on that purchase. And I discovered The Witching Season in its infancy on YouTube. Highly recommend! Just watching the opening credits gets you in halloween mood.

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