The Business Of Halloween

Oct 30, 2015

Adults like Halloween because it allows them to be someone they normally aren't, according to the co-owner of Cappel's Costumes.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Ray Cappel has seen a lot of changes in how people celebrate Halloween.  He's the co-owner of Cappel's Costumes and says when he started in the family business in the mid-70s, the children's holiday was growing to include adults.

“I think because adults like to party, they like to cut loose. It’s a great excuse for going out and being somebody that you’re not throughout the week. I think a lot of people have stressful jobs. We find, and people tell us, that it’s their favorite holiday of the year.”

Cappel says as more adults have gotten into the holiday spirit, the costume and accessory business has grown from a cottage industry to world-wide mass production.

Superheroes are popular at Halloween, partly because of the availability of printed t-shirts makes costuming easy.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

There seems to be no prevailing theme for Halloween this year. Cappel says last year both children and adults were dying to get their hands on costumes related to Disney's Frozen.  This year, he says, the field is wide open.

“Now there’s pockets of hot items... things like superheroes, both for children and adults, are extremely strong. Things for ladies like princesses and Renaissance tends to be extremely good.”

He says simplicity is key for men.

“They want just accessories that they can pick up and wear with something they have. There’s a new concept out in the last couple of years where if you want to be a superhero or if you want to do certain other characters, they’ve come out with basically printed t-shirts.”

Cappel says political masks are usually big sellers with Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon still holding strong, years after their times in office.

He says Cappel's sold its last Donald Trump mask from the Downtown store on Thursday evening.

Cappel says Trump masks weren’t available when he went to trade shows earlier this year. But with the celebrity billionaire’s political rise, Trump masks were rushed into production in China.

Ray Cappel expects to sell more politics-themed masks next year, as the Presidential race heats up.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The anecdote highlights how much of the industry is a gamble. “You’re basically ordering merchandise in February of that year,” Cappel says. “And it’s a big guessing game. You try to do your best. You try to have as much in the stores that you hope people will be gravitating to.”

But if it’s tough to predict the future for stocking up, once people start shopping Cappel says he can tell the mood of the country.

He says this year Americans are feeling freer. “It doesn’t mean that people are just coming in and spending huge amounts of money. You get a feeling that consumer confidence is at a better level right now, and you do see more people cutting loose and spending for the holiday.”

Since Halloween falls on a Saturday, that also helps encourage people to go a little wilder than normal, he says.