Published October 30, 2002
NEW YORK – Halloween is associated with kids and candy, but it's also an occasion for adults to let out their inner goblin.
In fact, one-third of all grown-ups will dress up for All Hallow's Eve this year, according to the International Mass Retail Association.
"I think Halloween is great. You are never too old to have some fun," said 23-year-old Chris Horan of Garden City, N.Y.
Stores like Target and Kmart are stocked to the rafters with fake fangs, scars, pointy ears and all matter of silly and scary disguises for adults.
"Halloween is becoming a dominant, if not predominant, season each year, rivaling back to school and secondary holidays like Valentine's Day," said Douglas Klein, spokesperson for Target.
But national retailers don't always offer a wide enough variety of creepy keepsakes. Specialty stores and Internet sites are packed with products created for grown-ups who want to celebrate with more than mini-Snickers and candy corns.
For those who prefer to spend a spooky evening inside, Vampire Wines, produced in the Transylvanian Alps, are perfect whether revelers want to dress as Elvira or the domestic diva Martha Stewart who has been known to bare her fangs occasionally. The merlot and cabernet sauvignon, of course, are dark red, making them resemble Count Dracula's drink of choice -- blood.
And while kids may be satisfied with a lemon lollipop or bag of M&Ms, those with more sophisticated taste can look to candy maker Godiva for truffles flavored with pumpkin spice and caramel apple.
Even high-end makeup companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Cosmetics firm M.A.C. is offering tips for achieving the perfect Halloween look on their Web site and selling products ranging from yellow colored base for $14 to exaggerated false eyelashes for $8.50.
But apparently Americans aren't afraid to open more than their trick-or-treat bags. They're willing to shell out good money for niche products.
"I'd rather use makeup from a reputable company. I'd feel less likely to break out from it," said 20-year-old Rachel Wechsler, who plans to dress as Cleopatra.
"Halloween is fun. You get wild and crazy," said 30-year-old Michael Balzano, from East Meadow, N.Y., who plans on spending around $30 this year.
The National Retail Federation estimates this year's Halloween spending will be as much as $7 billion.
And Web sites that specialize in freaky fun for the holiday are booming this year according to some.
"We have had over 16,000 hits," said Kristy Tallman, who owns Thelairofdarkness.com.
Sites like Tallman's and Shaddowdomain.com offer knick-knacks like skull-shaped candy dishes, cast iron cauldrons, wool cloaks, black rubber ducks with devil ears, voodoo soap and a bubble bath aptly called "Wash Away Your Sins."
"Halloween has always been my favorite holiday," said Shaddowdomain.com owner Julie Pederson. "I celebrate Halloween all year long."
And if the average plastic ghost or carved pumpkin isn't going to cut it as far as decorations are concerned, Citymorguegiftshop.com offers up items like grim reaper clocks, glow in the dark skulls and skeleton hand candle holders.
The online store's most popular items though are reproductions of real celebrity death certificates. For $3.95 anyone can purchase the certificates for stars from the beyond like Gary Cooper, Kurt Cobain and Groucho Marx.
"I do get a couple of complaints," said Citymorguegiftshop.com owner and former mortician Mark Chiavari about the reproductions. "People who don't like [the certificates] always seem to refer to the River Phoenix death certificate." Phoenix died of an overdose in 1993.
Also among Chiavari's top-sellers are life-sized masks of Bela Lugosi and Hannibal Lecter made by a former Hollywood prop master.
But while Halloween fans can't wait to don a scary mask or wacky getup, not everyone gets into the spooky spirit.
"A lot of people like what I am doing," said Chiavari. "Others think I am amoral and going to hell."