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What it’s like to work at Spirit Halloween

Nathaniel Martinez, Online Editor

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As much a staple of the Halloween season as pumpkins and candy, Halloween stores pop up every September, taking over vacant buildings to sell costumes and decorations. Their fleeting presence make them more mysterious than most stores. Last month, I was able to sit down with an employee of Spirit Halloween, the largest Halloween store chain, to try and find out how these stores work before, during, and after October 31.

 

How did everything start? How did you find out about the opening at Spirit Halloween? What was the interview process like?

My cousin was like, “You should come work with us!” and I was like “No.” He said “Why not?” and I said “Fine.” So I applied and nothing happened for a whole two months and then he texted me: “My manager wants to interview you.” So I drove half an hour to the interview.

 

What was the interviewer like?

They asked me all the basic employee questions: “Why do you want to work at Spirit Halloween” and “Tell us about a time you experienced conflict.” It was pretty much like National Honors Society but they cared less. Once I was done answering those questions, he’d scribbled on the entire page “Great answers.” Top to bottom of the page. After that, he took me out onto the store floor and asked one of the employees for a theme that I should put together a costume for. The employee chose spartans. The manager said “Without choosing a pre-made costume, make me the best spartan costume you can make. I came back a small man with a large shield, a toga outfit and a helmet. The helmet was broken but the manager said it was fine. I was hired on the spot.

How long was it from the day that you were hired to your first day? How often and how long did you work?

I think it was a week. I worked in the mornings and on Tuesdays I would work from 6:30 to closing. Most days would be four hours. I would say that I worked around eighteen to twenty hours every week.

So after you were hired, what was your first day like? Who did you meet and what were they like?

On the first day, I had to get there at 8:30. We opened up shop and the manager was complaining about why Spirit Halloween was even opening that early. When he finished, he told me how things worked. Each morning, the store would be a mess because customers don’t know how to put things back. So he told me to clean up the floor and put things back where they belong. The first place they assigned me to clean up was the clearance section, which was probably the messiest of all the sections. So I just did my gosh darn best to clean up that section and I did it spectacularly. Then I cleaned up the hat section. My manager said to walk around and make sure that customers are happy and offer assistance if they need it. I did that pretty much the rest of the day until the last hour when I had to stock some stuff.

Is that what a normal day was like?

Yeah, except for an odd-job every now and then like flattening boxes so they could be thrown away.

What are the busiest days?

From everything that I’ve heard, the three days before Halloween were really, really rough. As bad as a Black Friday Sale.

What problems come with the business that most people wouldn’t expect?

There weren’t that many problems except that we were sometimes understaffed. My first problem was my first cashiering experience. So my boss calls me over the walkie talkie. I get there and he says “I need to run to the bathroom, can you man the register for me?” I said, “Sure. I think. Maybe? No? Yes!” He said, “Don’t worry, as long as you follow the instructions on the paper, you should be fine.” I sold like one item before he came back because I did not know how to run the register at all. It took me a while to actually sell the item to the person who came up to the bathroom. So long that my boss ended up coming back to the register and taking over. He said it was fine because it was my first time cashiering.

Are there any interesting encounters that you’ve had with customers?

There were two couples who complained to me about the store like, “You know, this store is super disgusting. You should really think about that. You should really feel bad about it.” I didn’t really know why I should feel bad about it when I was working the register.

 

There was one time where I accidentally hit on a girl. She worked at Spencer’s and asked, “Can I have an employee discount?” and I said, “Sure. As long as you give me your number.” She was baffled until I clarified that I meant her employee number. Then I proceeded to give her full price because I completely forgot to apply the discount.

What happens after Halloween?

The whole store goes on sale the week after Halloween. Absolutely everything is 50% off. A few people come in and buy stuff. We were actually supposed to close less than a week after Halloween but we were pretty lazy about that. The last time I worked was when we were closing and cleaning up the store. Also, that was the week I learned that my boss wasn’t actually trained as a boss yet.

 

So to clean up we take down everything but the stuff we sell, and put it all in a big truck. People from other stores come and help. It was actually kind of nice even though I almost got crushed once or twice by the fake walls we put in the store. I almost twisted my ankle too.

What happens to the stuff that isn’t sold?

If we find any items, we can just take them home. There was quite a bit left actually. I didn’t want most of it but I did get a zombie head, two canes, a police hat, some police sunglasses, lion ears for my dog, and a rice cap. I got a lot of stuff, in a sense. Anything left over gets sent to a warehouse somewhere.

The stores shut down but what happens to the employees? Are employees guaranteed their positions the following year?

They have to apply again but they’re more likely to be hired, depending on how well of a job they do. The managers get to keep their positions if they want to.

What do you think of your overall experience working at Spirit Halloween?

It was not a bad experience at all. It was actually pretty good. It was a nice, relaxing time. It wasn’t strict but that was because my boss … my boss vapes. So I can’t really say if this is how all Spirit Halloweens are because some managers came over and were like, “My Spirit Halloween is better than this.” I didn’t know how to feel about that. I didn’t think I felt anything at all. But overall, I recommend working there.
One more thing: everyone should donate to Spirit of Children. With the money donated, Spirit Halloween sets up parties for sick kids. It’s a good cause. If you donate five dollars, you can ring a bell in the store.

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What it’s like to work at Spirit Halloween