Business as usual for Halloween-specific stores

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


Trick-or-treating is in jeopardy again this year, with several Quebec regions tightening restrictions to combat a second wave of COVID-19 throughout October, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying costumes for their children.
According to Eryck Gagnon, manager at Boutique Crazy Halloween in Sherbrooke, the store did quite well throughout the summer after it reopened in June. Sales have slowed down, but he expects it to pick up again soon.
“I have the impression that we’re going to be fine, even if there isn’t Halloween in the streets there will be private parties, kids are still going to school, so I don’t see why people wouldn’t start buying their costumes,” said Gagnon.
If there is a modified Halloween this year — no walking in the streets or knocking on strangers’ doors for candy — Gagnon, who is a father, plans to do something special for his family at home. A treasure hunt in the yard could be an option, he said.
Halloween is almost as important as Christmas, he explained, adding that cancelling the candy-filled event is the same as telling people there won’t be any presents this December because of the pandemic.
“We’re going to modify what we normally do for Halloween, but Halloween will be there and it has to be there because for me when we skip over a celebration for a year it’s in danger of being forgotten,” Gagnon said.
The boutique operates just like any other store. People must wear a mask at all times and disinfect their hands when they walk into the building. His staff is also constantly cleaning the counters and wiping down anything clients touch throughout the day.
The one caveat is that people cannot visit the store to try on costumes. The costumes remain on display, neatly stacked in bags or lining the walls of the boutique. When a customer needs something taken down, a staff member is there to help, Gagnon said.
Otherwise, it’s like walking through a Walmart, he continued. While they can’t try anything on, Gagnon believes it won’t be a problem, as parents often know their children’s clothing size. The store is generating most of its sales through children’s costumes at the moment.
A long time Halloween enthusiast, Gagnon is plugged in to various forums and Facebook groups specific to the scariest night of the year. There are a lot of ideas, he said, the community will figure out an alternative to trick-or-treating this year, even if it’s cancelled.
“There’s going to be a lot of Halloween events at home, watching horror movies, eating a halloween-themed dinner; I think people are original enough to find something interesting to do,” said Gagnon.
While the boutique stays open throughout the year, there is a pop-up shop that emerges every Halloween season in Sherbrooke. Halloween en Fête operates for a two-month period every fall to provide kids and adults with costumes and accessories.
One shop employee explained that they follow the same rules as Crazy Halloween. They blocked off their changing rooms and stick to all of the measures instituted by Quebec’s public health authority.
The employee told The Record that she hasn’t seen a noticeable decline in sales. She added that many people are in limbo because the government’s rules change weekly.
“If students are still at school, then I think they’ll put on a costume instead of normal clothes, but on the trick-or-treat side we don’t really know what’s going to happen,” she said.

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