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Halloween Shopping Guide
Updated for 2009

Table of Contents
Where to Shop - general guidelines
Where to Shop in the Northwest

In this Barney-infested world we live in, it can be quite difficult to find the cool and scary Halloween toys and decorations that we seek. Everywhere we look we see smiling pumpkins, smiling skulls, Mickey Mouse dressed as a smiling ghost, etc. If that wasn't bad enough, now we have Harry Potter turning attention away from scary monsters to kid wizards and fantasy.

The purpose of this document is to aid in the quest for Halloween items that are actually appropriate for Halloween, as opposed to smiling teddy bears dressed as witches and other hideously cute items suitable only for the mundane majority. If you think it's cool to dress as Barney for Halloween, please go away and never visit my web page again.

Halloween is now the second biggest money maker for retail stores, Christmas being number one. In theory it was television shows, such as The Simpsons, Home Improvement, etc, doing Halloween episodes that sparked the surge in popularity of our favorite holiday. The mass marketing of Halloween merchandise has brought about many changes in the way we buy Halloween toys - some good and some bad. It used to be most stores weren't ready for Halloween until the end of the first week of October. That has been moved up an entire month with some stores ready by September first. Fabric stores start in August since their customers are making their own costumes. Halloween decorations are available at many stores that previously only sold candy and huge Halloween superstores are opening up in empty department store spaces. Unfortunately, some small stores have stopped selling Halloween items due to the increased competition from the larger stores.

General Guidelines
Rule number one for Halloween shopping is SHOP EVERYWHERE. Halloween is so popular these days that there is no limit to where you can find Halloween stuff and with a little luck it isn't all cute teddy bears dressed as smiling pumpkins. Record stores have Halloween music, candle stores have Halloween candles, sock stores have Halloween socks, cooking stores have Halloween spatulas, etc. Small gift shops are often the best places to find unique items not found at the big stores. Also remember to check all departments. There may be a big Halloween section, but often some items are hidden in separate departments, such as watches, ties, etc. Often Halloween "gifts" are kept separate from Halloween "decorations".

Check local listings for Halloween craft fairs, festivals, and bazaars. These often have hand-made Halloween items not found in stores. Most of the stuff is too cutesy, but there is an occassional gem.

Some of the big chain stores are quite good for finding Halloween decorations and electronic Halloween toys. Visit all "one-stop-shop" stores in your area, such as Target, K-Mart and Walmart. They generally have a decent well-rounded selection and good prices. Party stores and craft stores are also good sources, though some do a better job than others.

Halloween superstores can usually be found in any large city. The ones I know of in the Northwest are listed below.

Where to Shop in the Northwest
These are recommended stores based on decorations, not costumes, in no particular order.
Spirit Halloween Superstorevarious locations - see Spirit web siteLargest overall selection
Spencer Giftsvarious locations - see Spencer Gifts web siteSubset of Spirit - same owner
Jo Ann Fabricsvarious locations - see Jo Ann Fabrics web siteStarts in August and has sales in October
Michael's Arts & Craftsvarious locations - see Michael's web site 
Targetvarious locations - see Target web siteLargest selection of the one-stops
Wal-Martvarious locations - see Wal-Mart web siteGreat prices
K-Martvarious locations - see K-mart web siteSome exclusives
Walgreensvarious locations - see Walgreens web site 
Party Cityvarious locations - see Party City web site 
Lippman Co.50 SE Yamhill 
Bazaar of the Bizarre7202A NE GlisanThe name says it all. New larger location.
Confetti Junction17181 Redmond Way @ 520, RedmondGood selection
Champion Party Supply124 Denny Way @ Warren, near Space NeedleGood selection
Party for Less10015 NE 137th St, Kirkland, WA?Good prices
Halloween Expressvarious locations - see Halloween Express store locator 
Spook Shop4176 Meridian, Bellingham, WA - also see Spook Shop web site 

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