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@RCIAG totally agree! The attic is full and I’m thankful all my premade props break down to very small boxes cause there is no room and my HOA does not allow outside sheds.

I have bins of skulls, foam pumpkins, two totes of outdoor lights and bulbs, another tote with cords. Totes with critters, totes with just Halloween plants, totes with costumes and box after box of props. I don’t decorate indoors but the volume of what happens outdoors is kinda ridiculous. It might be as we start to apply more and more scrutiny about what we buy we are becoming way more picky about our selections and therefore finding less and less to purchase.

I know it’s totally traditional Halloween, but man would I love to see a resurgence on vampire props and goodies.
 

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You know I recently saw a post for a Fortune Teller Serum bottle that Joann’s had last year. I’m like okay that’s different right? Went hunting for it and it was not to be had. I’ll probably copy the idea and make my own but even when something different does pop up if it’s not necessarily a commercial success it might only occur one season.
 

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I'm hoping this was just an off year.

As people who pay attention to the little details, we're probably all jaded and spoiled a bit though. A lot of members here got tired of seeing the new line-ups before the stores get the first box opened in August or September. I remember when we got the first ever prop store in my county. I easily spent the small amount I had set aside and would have spent any amount I had available, whether $1,000 or $10,000. Now it's getting more and more difficult to find anything I want to buy.

Things are improving overall though. Remember when your choices for a skeleton were a $100+ Bucky or a crappy $20 Blucky? Then Walgreens came out with their famous $25 skeletons (but only four per store). Now everyone carries them at a semi-decent price. You can also easily find cheap parts and pieces to use in your builds. I buy lots of the bags of three skulls for $8.99 or less every year because you can always find a use for more skulls. I always see people asking for how-tos on making hands, here and on Facebook. Forget that! Buy some for a dollar and improve them. It will look ten times better than the commonly suggested foam filled glove.

The rise of Halloween has led to lots of small businesses and crafters offering a wide variety of things we can use and at affordable prices. YouTube and the abundance of websites makes it easy to find tutorials for just about anything you want to do, and some stuff you never would have thought of.

What will next year bring? Who knows, but I'm sure there will be lots of cool new stuff. There always is.
 

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After a while I can’t remember which spellbook or which raven or which black cat I saw where cause it’s all blending together. Not sure what I’m looking for, but definitely feeling like it’s a very “rinse and repeat” type shopping experience.
I mentioned similar in another thread. Many stores are carrying the exact same items (the black carved hand, for instance). Also, a good amount of the products are reissues from years past with very minor details changed, if any.
 

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Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma used to have new high end kitchen and entertaining wares each year with different themes. They haven't had an interesting year in a while. They keep bringing back those metal based glassware designs that you can now find at TJMaxx/Homegoods stores for much less. Target hasn't had a banging year in ages either. Martha Stewart gave up long ago, downsizing what she put out significantly. I saw a resurgence at Michael's last year with her line for party ware and decorations, but I don't see the same effort this year. Didn't see any of her stuff at Michaels in fact. It's like all the companies put the employee with the least amount of Halloween enthusiasm in charge of product selection. :(
 

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I want to hope if big box retailers are making slightly vanilla choices that the end result is more people buying Halloween merchandise. It’s highly possibly if people start buying little Knick knacks they too could start to want more options. It could also mean if everyone has bought their potion bottles, people will buy less thus reducing offerings. I think in the end if you find something great, but if you don’t, try to be happy at least the retailer made the attempt.

I know this year I think was looking more for “ideas” than “merchandise”. I was really happy Big Lots gave me wolves. I know they are just blow-molds but it was a wolf and it was different. I have a skeleton wolf and that’s great, but I’m about skeleton crittered out. In the end, I don’t even know what I’m looking for anymore.

So tossing this question back, what exactly do you want retailers to have?
 

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So tossing this question back, what exactly do you want retailers to have?
Well for starters I'd like to see more hand choices with both a left and a right. Hands that can be shaped, or allow you to bend the fingers. I'd like to see more normal sized skeletons, like say 4 foot skellies, and 6 foot skellies and not just the 5 foot or 3 foot ones. I'd like to see some vultures, not just the skellie kind. Maybe a coffin that has a body that rises from the waist up. Tombstone poppers/peepers. Larger sized skulls that are not for foggers or made out of foam and that have movable jaws. I'd like for them to bring back the fire and ice lights, those worked for so many great effects. Large creepy dolls that are at least 3 feet tall and can be posed or child sized dummies with child sized heads and hands. Child sized latex pull over masks. More black cats.
 

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So tossing this question back, what exactly do you want retailers to have?
That's easy. I want them to have quality. Every store I walk into, it's all the same low-quality Chinese crap. I'll walk into a store for parts and realize that, for as much as I'll need to modify and repaint whatever they have, it's just easier and more time effective to start from scratch. This is what happens when you're making things for the lowest common denominator.

And stop making everything cute. I don't want cute. That's not to say there isn't room for cute, but it's all too cute. I want scary. Legitimately scary. Not scary for 6-year olds, but terrifying. Nobody makes that unless you go to Distortions or some professional prop maker. It's why I'd disable every single soundtrack on every single prop if I was ever crazy enough to buy one of them. It's too cute. It tries to make it funny. I don't want funny, I want scary.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
All - thank you for the great and insightful comments. 1. Some of you had mentioned about more choices for Halloween décor this year. I’m not much of a décor kind-a-person but I do agree that the choices are much better this season. Michaels, Homegoods (TJMaxx) and Walmart are offering décor that has the appearance of being hand crafted with a nostalgic flair (o.k. I admit that I purchased a piece or five and I’m now in therapy for it). 2. The pirate ship and pirate themed props at Home Depot were interesting but looked cheaply made. I would love for one of the Halloween Forum home haunter to “borrow” their idea and improve upon it (i.e. construct the ship using extruded foam that is made to look like wood). 3. I agree that the quality and availability of handmade merchandise from home haunters is a better choice. I have been slowly moving away from the mass produced stuff and creating my own using more natural materials. 4. Regarding the Target tombstones - Target usually has a few interesting pieces but as of now (mid September) the store by me still hasn’t displayed any Halloween merchandise (come on Michaels has had their stuff out since July). Attached are a couple of the purchases I made (ram skull and antiqued potion bottles - Walmart).

purchase 01.jpg
purchase 02.jpg
 

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So tossing this question back, what exactly do you want retailers to have?
I want high end housewares. Cloth tablecloths, napkins, bathmats, serving ware and place mats with elegant spook. Things I can use all year in the kitchen like spatulas, mixing bowls, cups, plates and knives. Department 56 used to do really nice ceramic drink servers, cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, mugs and more. I'm also fond of Halloween lighting and get really excited when they come out with new ideas like the fire and ice bulbs about 5 years ago. I'd also like to see more variety from year to year. It seems like many stores have put out the same designs for multiple years now. It feels like the creativity for new items is gone.
I also hate the cutesy merch. I was hoping a tea place I like was going to come out with a good Halloween design for a travel thermos last year, but it was a bunch of Monsters Inc type characters for their theme which was disappointing and far too preschool.
 

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I was very disappointed this year making the rounds. And as a couple of other said wonder if I am part of the problem. I get a lot of stuff every year but wait until after it goes on sale at 50-75 percent off. I notice most stores seem to sell very little until they do this. When stuff gets really cheap because they want to clear floor space for the next holiday or whatever..... people in my area seem buy stuff.

It’s great when yo are getting deals........ (i.e I have over a hundred various gemmy lights. They normally sold for $20 and I got them for 2.50-5 dollars.). This has to be de motivational to various stores and decreases their incentive to come up with new stuff an offer a huge selection. Truth is if I was a big store I would probably not see this as the best business model.
 

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It’s great when yo are getting deals........
That is exactly it. Lots of items wind up left over and being discounted because they are priced far too high to start. Stores need to realize this and make prices more reasonable to begin with. I get annoyed with Michaels in that they overcharge and only allow one coupon per transaction, as there is no way in hell that I am paying what they 'suggest' as the retail price. JoAnn has a better business model, IMO, discounting Halloween products 50-60% after not much time has passed. Having to either print a multitude of coupons and make multiple trips to get better buys or wait another two months for it to become worthwhile purchasing all of the items at once is not how it should be. The sad part is that even at up to 75% off, the stores are still making a profit, just not as much as they would have preferred.
 

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I was very disappointed this year making the rounds. And as a couple of other said wonder if I am part of the problem. I get a lot of stuff every year but wait until after it goes on sale at 50-75 percent off. I notice most stores seem to sell very little until they do this. When stuff gets really cheap because they want to clear floor space for the next holiday or whatever..... people in my area seem buy stuff.

It’s great when yo are getting deals........ (i.e I have over a hundred various gemmy lights. They normally sold for $20 and I got them for 2.50-5 dollars.). This has to be de motivational to various stores and decreases their incentive to come up with new stuff an offer a huge selection. Truth is if I was a big store I would probably not see this as the best business model.
I look at things and decide what it is worth to me. I don't care what they're asking, I care what value I personally put on it. For most things, like animatronics, that value is zero. I wouldn't touch it for free. For anything else, it's vastly overpriced for what you're getting at full retail, so nope, you have no sale. I also don't pick up a lot after Halloween. Last year, I got one skeleton and a pair of skelly dragons. That's it. Nothing else screamed out to me, even at vastly reduced prices. Until stores start offering better quality props, they're going to lose money. It simply isn't worth what they're asking for it.
 

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That is exactly it. Lots of items wind up left over and being discounted because they are priced far too high to start. Stores need to realize this and make prices more reasonable to begin with. I get annoyed with Michaels in that they overcharge and only allow one coupon per transaction, as there is no way in hell that I am paying what they 'suggest' as the retail price. JoAnn has a better business model, IMO, discounting Halloween products 50-60% after not much time has passed. Having to either print a multitude of coupons and make multiple trips to get better buys or wait another two months for it to become worthwhile purchasing all of the items at once is not how it should be. The sad part is that even at up to 75% off, the stores are still making a profit, just not as much as they would have preferred.
I was in JoAnn's yesterday and all of their Halloween is discounted 40-60% right now. I don't know how long that lasts, but I still didn't buy anything. They just didn't have anything I wanted.
 

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ok, but here's the thing.

if we're not willing to pay much, all we're going to get is the low quality stuff we're complaining about. businesses will buy what gets them the best profit margins, and the cheap stuff gives a bigger margin even when it's discounted 90%. they can buy it for pennies and sell it for 400x what they bought it for, and we'll buy it, because even if it's $3, if they bought it for $.03/10 units, they're making a good profit. a normal pricing formula for something retail is (supplies + labor) x (2 to 2.5) = wholesale ; wholesale x (2 to 20+) for retail.
they're making a logical business decision.

we've backed ourselves into a self-fullfilling corner with most retailers. they /want/ to sell you the stuff you want, because you want to buy it. but if you won't buy until it's 90% less than the original price they set, they have no motivation to ever sell something that costs more for them to acquire because the profit margins aren't there. big retailers won't take the risk that something won't sell.

and i'm not saying it's our fault, but it's not totally on the retailers either. we're all participating in a system that rewards profit over choice or quality, and we're not giving retailers any real incentive to change what's worked in the last 5 years. because even the stuff we don't really like /will/ eventually sell. and that's all they care about. it sold, and even at 90% off, they still made a profit, so it goes into their books as "people will buy this". which means they're more likely to buy it next year. they know it'll eventually sell, so it's not as high a risk as other items. they know they'll make their costs back.

the other side of this coin is, many small time creators have (thankfully) gotten wise to the fact that big retailers and suppliers steal their ideas, mass produce them, and sell them for cheap with no consequences, except profit. and the creators have virtually no recourse. the original creator can't sue for copyright infringement because the retailers have armies of lawyers and money, and the creator generally doesn't even have 1/4 of those resources. most of them can't afford 1 lawyer, let alone an army of them, so they stop creating or stop sharing. the system/society's attitude towards creative work has kind of crushed them, so they stop. how can you fight against a system that rewards big companies for stealing from you, and gives you absolutely no realistic system for recourse? you can't. so you either stop altogether, or you join in. lots of people who started trends in the past stop, because they can't compete. some try to fight, and they bankrupt themselves doing it. and i say this knowing several artists/creatives who have been ripped off by large retailers (halloween and not). none of them ever won their suits, and they're still paying off their lawyer(s), if they didn't settle out of court. none of them ever even got so much as an apology.

as an artist and creator, it's pretty demoralizing for the entire creative community. it knocks the wind out of everyone's sails when there's a new notification that your friend or that artist you admire was stolen from, and they lost their suit, and now they need to put up a gofundme just to pay their lawyer. so sometimes there's going to be a dearth of cool new shit.

there will, inevitably, be another wave of creators who will start new trends, but right now, the system/society has worn everyone out. it's hard to create when you're worried about everything horrible that's happening in society (even if you could use the escapism for mental health reasons); it's also hard to create when you know that if your cool thing goes viral, it WILL be stolen and monetized by a big retailer and you won't get even a mention, let alone a cut.

and i really don't mean it to sound like i'm scolding. i'm sorry, that's definitely not my intention. :/
 

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I was in JoAnn's yesterday and all of their Halloween is discounted 40-60% right now. I don't know how long that lasts, but I still didn't buy anything. They just didn't have anything I wanted.
and that's great. if more people do that, they'll have incentive to change their offerings next year. but right now, there's still a LOT of people buying.
 
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