From working long hours to styling displays, those who work at Halloween pop-up stores know what it really takes to have a successful scary season. Here’s what it’s like to work at a Halloween store during the peak season, according to former employees.
While INSIDER cannot independently verify these stories and individual experiences, they are certainly interesting.
You never know what your hours are.
- Rob Stothard/Getty
“… Unfortunately, the schedule expectations were absolutely insane. Shifts could last anywhere from four to 12 hours and your hours varied from four to 48 hours, weekly.
“Even worse? The manager reserved the ‘right’ to change shifts without warning. You were expected to constantly check the scheduling app because at any time, including with less than an hour’s notice, the manager could shorten, lengthen, push back, push forward, remove, or add a shift on your schedule.” – Quora user Beck Mageau
Customers aren’t always the most respectful.
- Scott Olson/Getty
“[There was a lot of] theft by employees and customers … [I encountered] the worst retail customers I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know what it is, but people have no respect for these pop-up stores.
“You’d take away packages of wigs from someone and explain why they aren’t supposed to take them out, and 10 minutes later you’d find them hiding in a corner doing the exact same s—. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about adults.
“Or, you find someone in an aisle trying to dress their child. You ask them to go to the changing room and tell them where it is, then as soon as you’re one aisle away, you hear them telling their kid to shut up and put [the costume] on because they’ll be done quick. When you go back again you find four to five costumes on the floor mashed together with broken accessories. These are ADULTS.
“You also have very little loyalty because no one really cares about a job they won’t have in a couple of months. I worked there for so long because I love Halloween, and it was a fun job … ” – Reddit user TessDevin
For some, working one season is enough.
- David McNew/Getty
“I worked for a [Halloween store] years ago. Setting up was so much fun. Theft is a big problem so you may be put in one section and asked not to leave that area – not even to bring someone to another area. Opening costumes on the floor is also a HUGE no-no. I didn’t understand why at first, but at the end of the season, you wouldn’t believe how many costumes were missing random accessories. All in all, a pretty good experience, but I wouldn’t do it again.” – Halloween Forum user mikieofthedead
It’s harder than you think.
“My general manager did not take the time she needed to with our store … and I had a staff that did not show up for shifts, or do their work. But, I did travel to other stores that were run better and it was a much better experience. I will say it is a lot of work! Especially at the beginning of the season where you are setting up your store. [There’s] tons of stocking, and organizing. But it’s fun, we all just played music and worked in our designated sections.
“Once the season starts, you can expect customers to argue with you about certain rules and return policies. In the end, you just have to keep reminding them and yourself that you don’t make the rules, and it is company policy … Customers will make a mess, open packages they’re not supposed to open, and put things where they don’t belong … ” – Halloween Forum user zombies_everywhere!
Customers oftentimes make huge messes.
- Scott Olson/Getty
“I ran a Halloween store many years ago and while you might think it would be fun, it really isn’t … Plus, probably one-third to one-half of your employees just don’t show up for their shift and it screws everyone else over. Because they know it’s temporary, employees figure they don’t have to show up when they don’t want to.
“Customers are terrible. They rip up your store and leave costume parts all over the place. They steal and make massive messes … Every single person in the store stocks all the time and shipments are coming in constantly. They begged me to come back the next year and I said no.”
– Halloween forum user Cephus404
You definitely need thick skin.
“I worked for [a Halloween store] a few years ago as a second job. You get paid nothing to get treated like garbage by a good chunk of the customers … Thankfully, the management team was awesome and we made the best of it. [A good team makes] all the difference in the world.
“Grow a thick skin, make sure you know the store policies inside and out, and try to have some fun!” – Halloween Forum user kuroneko
It can be great for people who love Halloween.
- Tim Boyle/Getty
“… I utilized my Halloween obsession and had a complete blast working with customers. I designed scenes, made suggestions, and [boosted sales] … I was able to take as many hours as I wanted, and was the first person called when someone canceled a shift … ” – Halloween Forum user Doto
It can also be kind of fun.
“It was one of my first jobs ever. Also, it was my favorite job ever. I loved setting up props and talking to the customers … Sometimes, if it was really dead in the store, I would be dress in a costume and go on the street to wave to cars and get attention for the store. That was always fun. I loved making the kids smile.
“How could you not love working at a Halloween store? The only things that sucked were working in the mask and wig area and having to stay late on Halloween. But still, I loved it!” – Halloween Forum user WifeofFrankie
People can definitely get on your nerves.
- David McNew/Getty
Especially when it comes to phone calls and return policies.
“Answering the phone: ‘Hello! Thanks for calling unnamed Halloween Store! How may I help you?’
‘Are you guys open?’
‘… It’s the weekend before Halloween. Of course, we are open.’
“Also, returns. So my store only allows exchanges after mid-October as opposed to refunds. Many people get so pissed at this. They ask, ‘Can I get store credit?’ No. You can’t get store credit. We close in three days. Exchange or get out.” – Reddit user ArtWithoutMeaning
And yes, sometimes it’s terrifying.
” … as we were walking out of the store, one of the displays goes off. It was this little zombie girl that says, ‘Do you want to play a game? Come a little closer and I will tell you about it. Come here, come closer,’ in a super creepy little girl voice. The display is only activated with a step-pad so it shouldn’t just randomly go off. So, we look around at the store to make sure we don’t see anyone. Everything looks normal, and nothing is out of place, so we leave.
“We were probably gone for 20 minutes or less. When we get back, we find some strange things …
“We see that one of the displays, a creepy ghost lady, has moved. Not only is she out of her cubby, but she is turned and unplugged.
“We know she wasn’t like this when we left and the store had been locked. We go to put her back and she goes off while being unplugged! Not only does she go off, but EVERY display around her does at the same time! Like I mentioned earlier, these displays are set to only go off when you step on their step-pad.
“So, that really freaked both of us out … We didn’t notice anything the rest of the day, but it still gives me the creeps! This was only my third day of work.” – Reddit user iwanttobelieve1993
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