Photos by Rukmani Nayyar
Photos by Rukmani Nayyar
Photos by Emma Kazaryan
By Alex Goetzfried
St. Patty’s Day got off to an early start on Wednesday night as the American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys rocked out to 3,000 rabid fans at Terminal 5 in New York City. Doc Martins, kilts, mohawks, tattoos and hockey sweatshirts imprinted with the Dropkick Murphys logo, are the fashionable items for an evening at a Dropkick Murphys show.
Article and Photos by Svetlanna Farinha
Dressed in a gray Washington Redskins T-shirt bearing the team’s red-and-yellow logo, Grandma Claudia Powley, 70, sat upright on a cream, tweed fabric couch awaiting her first Thanksgiving dinner.
Story and photos by Elisha Fieldstadt
Originally published on November 5, 2012.
On the Saturday before Halloween, the checkout line at the Spirit store in Chelsea was 50 people deep. By the next day, shoppers were more focused on groceries and staples as hurricane warnings abounded.
Among the Halloween goods were racks of masks of President Obama, but not a Romney mask was to be found.
“We got in the same amount of each mask,” says the assistant manager, Abbie Rodriguez.
Spirit operates 1,000 stores nationwide, and says the mask sales of presidential candidates have accurately predicted the results of the last four presidential elections, although it acknowledges that its “Presidential Index” has no scientific or mathematical basis.
“It’s not uncommon for people to buy the mask of the candidate they want to make fun of and wear a clown costume,” says Crystal Baxter, the manager of marketing and licensing for Spirit. However, she also adds, “It gives supporters a fun way to show their support for their favorite candidate.”
When Spirit’s marketing department noticed that Clinton masks outsold Dole masks in 1996 and then Clinton went on to win the race, it started calling its sales count “The Presidential Index.”
Nine days before Halloween, Baxter reports that overall, Obama mask sales were at 60 percent and Romney at 40 percent. “That number can definitely change because the first four weeks, Obama was up 65 percent and now he’s only up 60, so Romney is pulling up and there’s plenty of room for Romney to continue to pull ahead in the time that’s left,” she says.
While Romney masks outsold Obama masks in Chelsea (which seems unlikely to predict the vote in that Manhattan neighborhood), in other typically liberal areas — Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. — managers of Spirit stores all say they have sold one or two Romney masks but were sold out of Obama masks.
In contrast, in the cities of “red states,” managers of stores in Layton, Utah; Lawrence, Kan., and Houston say Romney masks are in the lead, and some haven’t sold a single Obama mask.
Managers from several stores in Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado and Virginia all say they had sold more Obama masks. Managers from multiple stores in Utah, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio all say that they have sold more Romney masks. That information simply indicates that the sales of masks, much like the election will not be won by a landslide.
“We definitely hope that one way or the other our mask sales can continue to early-predict the winner of the presidential race,” says Baxter. Either way, after three contentious debates and a slew of offensive political television ads, maybe the “Presidential Index” is a way to lighten up the election season. “It’s all in good fun,” she adds.
By Nakeisha Campbell and Kelvin Murphy
Most Halloweens, John Rosenberger usually visits thrift shops for his costumes. But this year he decided to visit Spirit Halloween’s pop-up shop at 766 Sixth Avenue, one of those stores that springs into being for a few months, or even weeks, then shuts.
“My lady friend wants to be Fiona from Adventure Time,” Rosenberger, 26, said. “She’s trying it on. She’s a small, but they’re already sold out of those, so we’re trying a medium.”
Another first-time pop-up shopper, Wilma Cordero, 25, said, “I’m just really looking for a specific costume; I go first online to check out what I like, and then I look around to see if all these stores have it, but this is actually my second store today.” She was at the same Spirit store.
Spirit and Ricky’s are both national chains that operate Halloween stores, some year-round and some seasonal pop-ups. Ricky’s has 27 year-round locations in the New York metropolitan area and one in Miami. Esti Lamonica, the store manager of Ricky’s at East 23rd Street and Third Avenue, said the company opened 30 pop-up Halloween locations in the New York area last year, and this year no more than a dozen.
Halloween has increasingly turned into a holiday for adults as well as children, and the average American shopper spent about $80 on Halloween-related items this year, according to BIGinsight, a monthly consumer survey. Although stores like Party City remain popular for Halloween shopping, many people are gravitating toward specialized pop-up shops, such as temporary stores that sell Halloween merchandise throughout October. Locations can range from vacant real estate to vacant retail spaces, and the shops disappear quickly.
“I do think that there are massive hordes of people running to these stores because they’re not commonplace,” said Christina Norsig, C.E.O. and founder of PopUpInsider.
A permanent store, she said, “doesn’t deliver with that sense of urgency, really truly, if it’s long term, if it’s in other neighborhoods, in the town you’re in, it’s not going to draw the crowds. If you open up something truly original for a limited period of time with a limited assortment, and it’s really special, you’re going to get people buzzing around it.”
Aside from their popularity with consumers, many building owners see pop-ups as a way to fill vacant space and show off the property.
At Spirit Halloween on Sixth Avenue, an assistant manager who would identify herself only as Debbie said: “American Apparel was here before us, and before that was a temporary furniture store outlet. They actually have a permanent tenant here now, coming in after us, but we had this two years in a row.”
The Spirit Halloween aisles were filled with colorful masks and outfits, including scary zombie outfits, superheroes and cartoon characters.
While Ricky’s has cut the number of its pop-up stores in New York, Spirit Halloween seems to be increasing them. Last year, the company said, it had more than 1,000 pop-ups in 49 states, compared with 63 in 1999.
Norsig said Halloween pop-ups had been increasing since 2009. “Last year, Halloween pop-up stores, I want to say were up 8 percent, over the year before. And the year before that was 15 percent up.”
While Ricky’s and Spirit Halloween carry both children and adult costumes, both seem to target adults, especially on their web sites. A search for “adult costumes” returns thousands of choices on either web site, far more than a search for “children’s costumes.”
Halloween pop-up shops also sold costumes and masks of political candidates, certainly more popular with adults than children.
The Halloween industry continues to grow every year. Over 70 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, a 20 percent increase since 2005, according to BIGinsight.
“After the storm, after two years, of Halloween almost being, not canceled but not quite full on, I have to wonder what next year is going to look like for the seasonal business.” said Norsig. “I’m just wondering if they’re going to scale back the amount because of the losses this year. I have to believe it wasn’t a stellar year in terms of the sales.”
Articles and photos by Rebecca Ungarino
After Hurricane Sandy clobbered the New York metropolitan area, the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which some years attracted more than 50,000 celebrants, was canceled for the first time since its 1974 inception, taking a lot of energy out of Halloween for many people.
Both those in search of candy and their parents looked long and hard for Halloween spirit in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. (New Jersey took a different approach; by gubernatorial proclamation, Halloween was shifted to Monday, Nov. 5.)
In East Harlem, like many other neighborhoods, the range of reactions was broad.
Walking along Third Avenue above 100th Street was at first disheartening. Handmade “No Candy” signs – no doubt scrawled with haste to deter children from infiltrating stores — were hung in windows and on doors, and even on a manikin outside a thrift shop. One man was carefully shooing trick-or-treaters and accompanying parents out of a Dunkin’ Donuts between 108th and 109th Street, calling, “No candy, no candy!” Discouraged faces were everywhere.
At some stores, it was business as usual. From a narrow electronics store between 101st and 102nd Streets, the Ghostbusters theme song streamed out, mingling with the puffs of frosty breath of pedestrians going by.
Small clusters of four-foot-tall Batmen and Princess Jasmines appeared from inside storefronts and apartment steps. Three young girls were on the sidewalk, eager to describe their costumes to me. Alice in Wonderland said she lived near the FDR Drive. “We would be down at the parade right now, but it was canceled because of the storm,” Alice said wistfully. “We go every year.”
Her friend, in a bright orange bob wig and a brown sweater, was adjusting her drawstring backpack half full of candy. Referring to the Scooby Doo cartoon characters, she said: “I am Velma. I tried to be Daphne, but I ran out of money, so I’m Velma with my clothes.”
Alongside was Little Red Riding Hood, with hooded red nylon cape, who explained: “I didn’t want to wear makeup for my costume. I never wear makeup. But sometimes my father says I should.”
On the northeast corner of 103rd Street and Third Avenue, a long table of goods was for sale — leather cellphone casings, pins with Mother Theresa’s face engraved, bags of candy bags, pairs of gloves. Alongside were rubber masks of grossly deformed men. Behind the table sat Johnny, who traveled from the Bronx to work the table with his uncle.
“It don’t even feel like Halloween ’cause of the storm,” he said. “We’re selling masks for less than the store. It’s been slow. People are buying the gloves, but not the masks.”
On a corner of 108th Street is Marketa 108, a deli visited by two ninja turtles, a witch and a small Barack Obama— all lined up to get candy from an elderly Asian man standing next to the fruit for sale. When I asked his name, he gave me a handful of suck-on candies out of a plastic bag and a huge smile, adding, “My name is Chan!”
On East 111th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues sits Lizabeth Tailoring, and Lizabeth was inside tending to a customer. A few customers, she said, had brought in costume dresses for her to hem.
Inside the Madison Avenue Methodist Church between 114th and 115th Streets, it was quiet, save for quiet conversation in the office to the left of the entry. Arthur McLean, the church treasurer, said: “If there were a younger congregation, there would be more programs. There is a Korean program this Saturday, and I’m sure if there were more young people in the congregation we would have a youth Halloween program, most likely.”
When I asked whether Halloween is a celebrated holiday at the church, he responded, “It’s really up to the individual.”
Farther north, the M. Futterman Corp. Wholesale Candy, was in full swing. Small Halloween-themed signs adorned the entrance. Inside were cotton spider webs hanging from the shelves and garlands hanging from the counter. The bustling employees behind the counter were all teenagers working at the family business. Oversized bags of assorted candy were displayed in the window.
“Three twenty-five for one bag,” the girl with the devil ears at the register said, noticing my eyes glued to the Tootsie Rolls. They even had candy cigarettes. “Everything in the window is three twenty-five.”
“We were open at seven this morning,” said the manager, who declined to provide his name. “It wasn’t very busy until around one. It is especially cold this year. We weren’t open on Monday or Tuesday because of the storm. It would have been much busier. We know a lot of people who didn’t want to come out, so we made deliveries, by bicycle and by truck.”
Several blocks away, young twins dressed as Mario and Luigi searched for lollipops, undeterred by the cold weather. Beyond the two toddlers and their mother a tall man doled out candy from a wastebasket lined with a black plastic bag.
The self-declared Wizard of Oz of East 111th Street wished me a happy Halloween. Six feet tall with a wizard’s hat making him look even taller, he appeared to have sat outside his brownstone all day with his wife. A golden Halloween gong sat in front of his stoop, with a wrench on hand to bang it.
“I am just out here to entertain the neighbors,” the Wizard said.
Not such a dull Halloween after all.
Article and photos by Elisha Fieldstadt
The idea behind Fashion’s Night Out, introduced in September 2009 by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, was to celebrate fashion with a night of in-store promotions and events that would draw those-most-likely-to-spend, thereby providing a boost to sales and the industry’s overall business.
By this year’s fourth annual Fashion’s Night Out, on Sept. 6, the event had been held not only in New York but in more than 500 cities in the United States and in 18 countries. Whether it has increased consumer spending is hard to determine, as the event has morphed into an extravaganza of celebrity appearances, free makeovers and mini-concerts that sometimes seem to distract consumers from taking out their wallets.
“It’s really just like a party,” said Arianna Montaldo, the manager of Anthropologie, a women’s clothing store in Chelsea Market. “I don’t stock extra because there’s really no need. If anything, we sell less.”
Still, each year more stores compete with events, hoping to increase the number of shoppers. This year, Anthropologie appealed to its demographic by advertising a performance by the indie singer Lucy Schwartz and offering mini-pizzas and lemonade. The concert drew a crowd, but many people seemed preoccupied by two hours of live music and free food rather than shopping.
“I didn’t buy anything,” said Faith Bowen, who has participated in Fashion’s Night Out for the past two years. I didn’t even consider making a purchase,” she added. “To me, Fashion’s Night Out is more about the entertainment. Honestly, I didn’t even know that people went to FNO with the intention of making purchases.”
Performances like Cyndi Lauper’s at the Manolo Blahnik boutique made Anthropologie’s soirée seem low-key. Larger department stores like Macy’s boasted not one but many celebrities, including Bethenny Frankel of “Real Housewives,” Emily Maynard of “Bachelorette” and the designer Michael Kors, making it difficult to move around.
For some, the night wasn’t always about free food and celebrity sightings. At her first Fashion’s Night Out, “I spent around $250,” said Fallon Prinzivalli. “Last year, I spent around $70. This year, $0.” At last week’s event, she said she “waited in line for an event that took place an hour and a half later than scheduled, and I was too exhausted to do anything after the fact.”
If it was deals she was looking for, Fallon doesn’t need to regret that she spent the night standing in line in line at Bloomingdale’s to meet Twilight star Kellan Lutz.
In previous years of Fashion’s Night Out, shoppers could look forward to receiving free gifts and heavy discounts; this year retailers were discouraged from using such tactics to induce people to spend. On the retailer FAQ section of the FNO website, retailers were warned: “The goal of Fashion’s Night Out is to celebrate and support the fashion and retail industries, so discount promotions are discouraged and cannot be promoted by the Fashion’s Night Out team. Instead, we urge you to take advantage of Fashion’s Night Out to promote full-price shopping and new deliveries with creative incentives.”
As data about retail sales have consistently demonstrated, shoppers enjoy the hunt and the feeling of getting more for less, even if it is just a free tote bag with a big purchase. They also know that if they wait, prices will drop – that’s one reason that more Christmas shopping now takes place closer to Christmas Day.
At this year’s Fashion’s Night Out, Wintour steered clear of the stores; her surprise appearance took place in a tent in the Meatpacking District, where she signed the September issue of Vogue and posed with fans.
Four years after its inception, Fashion’s Night Out may be just as much fun as it was in 2009, but its lasting positive impact on the economy is debatable.