Spirit of Halloween ...., How do they do it?

More specifically, how do they set up and take down 1300 stores in 3 months?

I’ve set up 4 stores in my life and it’s a nightmare every time.

Setting up leasing, shelving, product, utilities, payment terminals, and a dozen other things.

The logistics just seem daunting, but obviously they pull it off

Remember they have all year to plan for it, It’s not like they start working in October. Have you been to a Spirit store? The ones I have seen are pretty basic. They take any large empty retail space, fill it will shelving and throw in a few cash registers. I know it sounds daunting, but they have have been doing this for many years and probably have it down to a science. Where there’s a lot of money to be made… there’s a way.

They do spend the entire yearprepping and stocking up just for the Halloween blitz. Here’sa little bit on it - 10s of thousands of seasonal employees must help.

Where I live (Missoula, MT) there’s a store where Spirit Halloween sets up every year and it’s empty the whole rest of the year.

As far as how they can get set up so quickly, well, how long do you think it should take to stock shelves with merchandise, if you hire a bunch of poor college kids and get them to work weekends? You can do hiring completely online if you have a cheesy online application and route them to a local clinic to do piss tests, assuming the company cares that the person stocking the cheap sexy nurse outfits might be a midnight toker, and the rest is just getting the merchandise from central warehouses to the individual stores, which is why trucks exist.

Supply chain management is the only interesting piece of the puzzle, but it is, if not completely solved, then at least fairly well-understood in the retail space. Especially if you’re dealing with non-perishable goods which won’t change that much from year to year.

This year, at least, they’ve set up a lot of locations inside the bones of old Toys 'R Us stores, so the shelving and what not is probably still there from the previous tenant.

I’d bet their first 4 stores were nightmarish too.

I’d expect it doesn’t take much longer than a couple days to set up a store once the inventory and shelving units are delivered. A lot of throwing things on pegboard and shelves but my retail experience tells that it doesn’t take all that long. Maybe a little longer for the center displays but there’s also a lot of duct-taped cords and things – they don’t work hard at making it pretty or professional.

I heard that their detractors didn’t think the concept had a ghost of a chance when they first started setting up stores.

Around here we have Halloween Express. Never realized that there was a competing chain.

If you wanting jaw-dropping awe, you should try watching a movie crew dressing an on location set. Say they want to use a city block overnight in a 50s period piece. They’ve got production assistants who will plan everything down to the last jot, propmasters who will collect all of the materials, and a crew of burly people who relish hauling around weighty bins.

Comes the big day, the block is closed off and there is absolute fury of action for a couple hours as every trace of the present is removed or covered and period items brought in to take their place. The shooting crew swoops in and if they’re lucky, get four or five hours to do their magic, then they quit and another couple hours is spent restoring everything so the block can be used for reals.

Compared to that, a couple days to set up and tear down a Spirit store is a walk in the park.

I wish that I could see those job ads: **Are you a burly person? Do you relish hauling around weighty bins? **

Off topic, but go check out Venice. You have an entire city with no roads. That means postage, food, waste, furniture, souvenirs, building supplies, etc. get moved by a small army of porters. They can cheat a little by using the canals or the perimeter road, but once you reach an island it all moves by hand.

a lot of spirit stores are staying open longer too since there selling xmas decorations now

In my area these stores operate multiple times a year, sometimes in tents (fireworks, Christmas trees) otherwise in cheap retail locations (Halloween, other holiday tchotchkes). It is reasonable to assume they have a well-tested script by this point for setup and breakdown.

Cheap labor is almost always available; these stores are the epitome of a need for the unskilled version.

What? And leave the glamour of Hollywood?

Truthfully, if you want to sample what it’s like, join up with some indy making a micro-movie with a crew of a dozen and a half. Then everyone carries bins, including the director.

Several decades ago (when I was young and burly) I helped a friend set up what we would now call a ‘pop-up’ shop. He had a small boutique (tautology?) just off the high street and had the opportunity to use an empty shop in a prime position for one week.

On Friday night, four of us hauled all his stock and displays a couple of hundred metres from one shop to the other and by Saturday morning it was up and running. It did look a bit - temporary - but sometimes in retail fashion, that’s no bad thing.

A few of my friends were district managers for Spirit for a while. The company has their logistics down pretty well. Everyone above store managers work year round, Store managers get laid off for 4 months or so out of the year. Store employees are just there for a week before and after the stores are open. The management for that company does a lot of the physical labor themselves.

Break down is chaos, most the people doing break down aren’t particularly motivated since it’s the end of their job, everything just gets thrown into shipping containers. The shipping containers are shipped to an empty lot. Everything gets pulled out, inventoried and divided up between containers dedicated to next years stores. They start ordering new products throughout the year to be ready for the next season.

As Halloween gets closer the company starts pursuing new short term leases to set up stores in. Everything about the operation is coming up with creative solutions to keep costs down. The total profitability isn’t great so spending a dollar more than they need to is killing anyone’s bonuses. If they can find a location with usable fixtures, great, less labor bringing in what they do have or less cost renting or buying new stuff. A lot of the training for the management is thinking out of the box and estimating labor as an expense. ie we have a week to set up, the store has no fixtures, how many employees do you need for set up, how many can you push off until we open, as you don’t want to pay anyone you don’t need earlier.

Yup, I’d never heard of them before this thread, but a quick google shows me that they have a store in my town at the old Toys 'R Us.