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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didn't intend this on making this post until I found a video of Dollar Tree's Halloween decor from 2007. That's when it doned on me how most of what decor I've seen has somehow manged to get worse within the last 10 years. within this post I will present how once scary decor has now become craft and tinsel at a dollar store. (EDIT: I spoke with a fellow haunted a few days ago and he presented that the reason between the fluctuating items at dollar tree is due to cost and supply. If it cost over a certain amount for production and delivery then it won't be stocked. Because then the company would not make a profit. This is also the reason that a lot of Dollar Tree's former decor items have moved to 99 Cent Store locations.)

Lets put this in perspective. Dollar tree once sold decor that could perfectly stage a homemade garage haunt or stuff to make a cool prop. Over the years most of these items have disappeared or become worse in quality before they are eventually replaced. Today the common stock of dollar tree consists of a limited section of good decor while the rest is mostly craft supplies or wooden signs that wouldn't stand up to even the smallest rainstorm.


My first example is: body parts (2007-2014)

Starting in 2007 (maybe earlier) every Dollar Tree location would begun carrying a selection of blood and gore themed items. This consisted of Plastic severed hands,fingers,legs,ears and eyes. Also body parts like brains and hearts would be sold in packages that would resemble the same used for meat products. Also with this decor included fake blood bottles (later edition), bloody cloth,zombie masks (resembled Freddy Kruger) along with window clings. All of these items except the window clings have stopped production. This is one of the largest examples I can find of how their decor has gone downhill. Most of these products would be pretty cool to use and/or modify. Heck you could have your own "butcher scene" with this stuff if you got creative.

All items where discontinued in 2014. Most stores have continued to stock these until their stock ran out. The latest video I could find of a store having any of these items was 2018

Food Ingredient Staple food Recipe Dish



Example two: Motion sensor figures (2016-present day)

Another example (while not as big) is the motion sensor witches and ghost that have been sold for a while now. When both first came out they where pretty well built with the witch having a old/cheap cackling recording and the ghost having an obnoxious "eerie" recording as the website states. These figures where cool because you could use them as they came or buy them in bulk and have some old fashion looking, blow mold pathway markers. This seemed to change when both of them got design changes in 2019. Both became more childish looking while also getting worse audio tracts. I happened to come across an original plastic witch that I had used as a pathway marker when they first came out. due to the low quality plastic. Her green face and arms had faded to white and so had her robe.

Original designs
Purple Hat Sun hat Headgear Art
Art Sleeve Grey Toy Headgear



2019 remake
Hat Witch hat Purple Toy Costume hat


2020 to present day
Facial expression Vertebrate Hat Product Witch hat





Honorable Mentions

Black lights
- Sold since the start of their Halloween decor. Literally light bulbs painted black. States on package that they do not create a glowing effect. Might as well throw out $1.

Night creatures/bugs
- A line of synthetic worms,fly's,spiders,rats,bats,cockroaches and other nasty creatures. These could easy be used in jars or put on walls. These where the cheapest locally available props like this to find until there discontinuation in 2017
Purple Rectangle Violet Font Magenta


Halloween costumes- Items like large capes,makeup,knives and other accessories along with masks have all changed. But the hockey mask,cleaver and huge knife have remained. Most of these items however have thankfully moved to Dollar General to avoid discontinuation.






So where do we stand now?

With Dollar Tree's statement in 2021 about price increase I would like to think that this could possibly lead to more of these items coming back. I am personally tired of going to dollar tree and seeing the endless amount of cheesy tinsel decor and signs that nobody would even find scary. So what has happened? What's with the decline of decor from scary almost haunted house like material to glitter spiders and cutesy ghost and goblins. What happened to the days when you could whip up a haunted house with some dollar store and Walmart items? Now days that idea seems almost impossible. Maybe im just some crazy person who has invested way to much time on tracking the evolution of dollar store decor or not. But hopefully others will agree with my statements on this.
 

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Horror-Jump Scare-Eerie
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You're not the only one! However, I feel this is not just limited to the Dollar Tree. I feel as though the industry is shifting towards a more softer Halloween to appease, and I'm sad to say it, my generation (millennials) and the new generations. My mom used to get amazing decorations from Target and Spirit in the 1990's and early 2000's but now it's more about aesthetic relevancy and charming decor that won't be too scary. I remember a couple years ago going into a Spirit and wondering what happened, where did the good stuff go; I was so upset that I forwent Spirit all together for a couple years and shopped at Halloween City and Halloween Express. A lot of my decorations were given to be by my mom so I didn't have to suffer too much but it's a pain when the only truly scary/unsettling decorations you can get are $300+ animatronics.

I truly hope that the Dollar Tree, and the industry as a whole, can get back to the roots of a Scary Halloween.
 

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I gotta say I agree with both of you, I remember Halloween back in the 90’s was one of my best memories, a lot of houses were handing out candy and house nicely decorated and scary as well, and also the owners were always out to scare you. And now these days I’m seeing it in the stores, less and less scary decorations and the ones they actually have are so limited, almost every dollar store, dollar tree, dollarama, etc ran out of Halloween decorations for ppl to buy. Now just gotta rely on DIY projects for the years to come
 

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Gotta throw in with you here. Where did the sense of spookiness go with the Halloween props? I LOVED as a kid going to the spooky decorated houses and the neighbors doing the Halloween party with everyone in costume and the basement being dark and them doing the creepiest stuff they could. If I want something creepy and not to gory (I prefer the creep factor) I have to pretty much build it myself or heavily modify things. When did glitter on Halloween props become a thing? Glitter skulls? Glitter Rats? Glitter cobwebs?
I do a kid friendly area - inflatables, pumpkins, some of the cuter props. I understand for the younger kids keeping a calmer - but when did this attitude for Halloween change?
 

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Too many of the Halloween items for sale now are what my wife and I call "happy" Halloween decorations. There is some cool stuff out there, just not enough of it. And it's way too expensive, animatronic props are a cool concept or idea, but they all have the same problems, poor quality materials, and crappy workmanship. Plus, as soon as you see them, you know that they're fake, that's why I've never owned a single one.
I've always tried to make my haunts as realistic as I can with my limited budget, I make most, if not all of my own props. I prefer to let the kids and their parents freak themselves out by showing them just enough to not know exactly what they just saw.
This year, our son wants to take what I did to his house last year to another level. I've got a few ideas and suggestions about how we're going to do it, but it won't include any of the crap that they sell in any stores, except maybe a few skeletons. I've never used a full skeleton in my displays, but this year I intend to.
 
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Agreed, decorations not just a DT but everywhere have gone down hill. Back in the day, 2011 or so the local haunter's group we were part of had a summer weekend camp outs. One of the afternoon activities was to break up in teams send the team leader with $10 to the nearest DT and get items to build a prop with whatever they brought back. We did this in late July - early Aug... and guess what there would be actual Halloween things in the store that early.... now Christmas seems to beat Halloween, assuming you can find room in the "seasonal" area what with back to school hogging the shelves. The last year we did the camp out was 2013 and I was in need of bags of those small creepy bug and things for a seminar we'd be teaching at the campout. Alas the store wasn't stocking Halloween that early anymore but the LOVELY store manager said she had a case of them clogging up her back room been sitting in there since last Halloween, sold it to me. She told me it was upper management that first told them WHAT they would sell in the store, she could not simply order what actually sold in her store so too much stuff was left sitting in her small stockroom and second they told her WHEN she could sell things... if they found out she sold a case of bugs to me out of season she might get in trouble.

Yes all the holiday decor gets the same cheesey, low quality and usually nothing I'm looking for beyond how can I change it treatment these days. For me the visual is the look and size of the plastic skulls DTuse to carry. They went from an OK size and more realistic look to child size with a cartoony look. If not for the fact we got 2 cases of their plastic rats and every time I'd go in pick up half a dozen or so hands or feet long ago, I'd be SOL these days. This year I need some of their large spiders the ones that came 2 to a pack NOTHING but GLITTERed spiders. For me tinsel and glitter have no place in Halloween and that's where were at these days.

Had a nice chat with a worker at the DT before Christmas and she confirmed all DT's were raising their prices but not to realistically believe the quality or size of items in the store to really improve. That the raise in price was to make the stock holders happy.
 

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Especially for something that your going to use for the long run, I’m buying all new materials this year so bank will be hit but I know it’s going to last for a long time. Although animatronic’s is a diff deal lol I’m not there yet in knowing how to piece one together yet.
Yeah I have to agree. It seems like if you want a quality prop without breaking the bank then that's the way to go.
 

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My theory on some of this is that most stores aren't catering to us but to the "normals". From DT to Spirit, they're catering to the folks that want quick, easy & cheap decor. If it gets ruined or breaks they haven't lost a ton of money. They want an animatronic Jason for their party or some Hocus Pocus decor for the season.

They aren't "ONE OF US!!"

I admit to liking some of the DT throwaway decor. I will buy some things for the season only like garlands, some of those $1 battery lights, the chair covers, etc. because I use them outside & if they get trashed it's OK.
 

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My theory on some of this is that most stores aren't catering to us but to the "normals". From DT to Spirit, they're catering to the folks that want quick, easy & cheap decor. If it gets ruined or breaks they haven't lost a ton of money. They want an animatronic Jason for their party or some Hocus Pocus decor for the season.

They aren't "ONE OF US!!"

I admit to liking some of the DT throwaway decor. I will buy some things for the season only like garlands, some of those $1 battery lights, the chair covers, etc. because I use them outside & if they get trashed it's OK.
That’s true I do buy things from the stores and end up using it for other projects at some point, good props for diy projects are bought from those cheap stores
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My theory on some of this is that most stores aren't catering to us but to the "normals". From DT to Spirit, they're catering to the folks that want quick, easy & cheap decor. If it gets ruined or breaks they haven't lost a ton of money. They want an animatronic Jason for their party or some Hocus Pocus decor for the season.
Its almost like the same thing is happening to decor as with electronics as well. It used to be that you had one of not a few tv's and you took care of them, the same goes for appliances. And if one broke then you took it to get repaired or you would repair it yourself. Now, we live in such a throw away society that its common to use something until it breaks and then just going out an getting another one. I cant tell you how many times I've gone to rural towns in Nebraska during October (prob the same in other states) and seen either a Gemmy Lifesize, Older Spirit prop or any other type of decor outside withering away in the elements. The same even goes for the "bad neighborhoods" in town. I forgot to take a pic but I remember seeing a house with a homemade graveyard display and next to it was an old dead eye drake prop. Its clothes where faded. Both of his arms and his jaw where broken. And it looked like it has been sitting out for the past 10 seasons or so.

It seems like the manufacture have also taken part in this. Goodbye to the days of good craftsmanship and products made to last. Goodbye to the days of when company's would send you replacement parts. It seems to be an error on both sides of the equation, People not taking care of anything and constantly wasting money by buying more stuff each year. And the manufacture producing items for as little as they can.
 

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To be honest, I've never depended or leaned on dollar tree for Halloween supplies other than my favorite,(which are gone) being the black birds
I can't agree enough with everybody's replies here, but this one really hits home for me. 2021 halloween I worked at a Spirit, and frequently visited MANY local Dollar Trees, but the only classic black crow I could find was the Spirit Halloween costume accessory, a crow that attaches to your shoulder. Dollar Tree used to have crows, but where'd they go?! I was so upset about it
 

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Yeah, the DT has been useless for years now. Every other retail store has been in decline for Halloween stuff for the last 10 or 15 years or so too. Big box stores sell more online too.
Walmart and Target used to have after Halloween sale stuff for weeks not just hours or a day like it is now.
That's when I used to get all my misc junk for projects because it was 75 to 90% off.
I remember when Walgreens was a hidden gem for Halloween stuff but that place dried up the last few years too.
Covid and the supplychain issues killed the last 2 years but I doubt it's going to get any better when it's all done.
Home Depot (except for this year) is the only retail store that goes all out for Halloween.

I also remember a few more chains that used to open Seasonal Halloween stores besides Spirit but I can't remember the names.

It also depends on your location.
I've walked into Walmarts in other states that are packed with product when the one in my own area has very little variety.
 

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I didn't intend this on making this post until I found a video of Dollar Tree's Halloween decor from 2007. That's when it doned on me how most of what decor I've seen has somehow manged to get worse within the last 10 years. within this post I will present how once scary decor has now become craft and tinsel at a dollar store. (EDIT: I spoke with a fellow haunted a few days ago and he presented that the reason between the fluctuating items at dollar tree is due to cost and supply. If it cost over a certain amount for production and delivery then it won't be stocked. Because then the company would not make a profit. This is also the reason that a lot of Dollar Tree's former decor items have moved to 99 Cent Store locations.)

Lets put this in perspective. Dollar tree once sold decor that could perfectly stage a homemade garage haunt or stuff to make a cool prop. Over the years most of these items have disappeared or become worse in quality before they are eventually replaced. Today the common stock of dollar tree consists of a limited section of good decor while the rest is mostly craft supplies or wooden signs that wouldn't stand up to even the smallest rainstorm.


My first example is: body parts (2007-2014)

Starting in 2007 (maybe earlier) every Dollar Tree location would begun carrying a selection of blood and gore themed items. This consisted of Plastic severed hands,fingers,legs,ears and eyes. Also body parts like brains and hearts would be sold in packages that would resemble the same used for meat products. Also with this decor included fake blood bottles (later edition), bloody cloth,zombie masks (resembled Freddy Kruger) along with window clings. All of these items except the window clings have stopped production. This is one of the largest examples I can find of how their decor has gone downhill. Most of these products would be pretty cool to use and/or modify. Heck you could have your own "butcher scene" with this stuff if you got creative.

All items where discontinued in 2014. Most stores have continued to stock these until their stock ran out. The latest video I could find of a store having any of these items was 2018

View attachment 758788


Example two: Motion sensor figures (2016-present day)

Another example (while not as big) is the motion sensor witches and ghost that have been sold for a while now. When both first came out they where pretty well built with the witch having a old/cheap cackling recording and the ghost having an obnoxious "eerie" recording as the website states. These figures where cool because you could use them as they came or buy them in bulk and have some old fashion looking, blow mold pathway markers. This seemed to change when both of them got design changes in 2019. Both became more childish looking while also getting worse audio tracts. I happened to come across an original plastic witch that I had used as a pathway marker when they first came out. due to the low quality plastic. Her green face and arms had faded to white and so had her robe.

Original designs
View attachment 758789 View attachment 758792


2019 remake
View attachment 758790

2020 to present day
View attachment 758791




Honorable Mentions

Black lights
- Sold since the start of their Halloween decor. Literally light bulbs painted black. States on package that they do not create a glowing effect. Might as well throw out $1.

Night creatures/bugs- A line of synthetic worms,fly's,spiders,rats,bats,cockroaches and other nasty creatures. These could easy be used in jars or put on walls. These where the cheapest locally available props like this to find until there discontinuation in 2017
View attachment 758793

Halloween costumes- Items like large capes,makeup,knives and other accessories along with masks have all changed. But the hockey mask,cleaver and huge knife have remained. Most of these items however have thankfully moved to Dollar General to avoid discontinuation.






So where do we stand now?

With Dollar Tree's statement in 2021 about price increase I would like to think that this could possibly lead to more of these items coming back. I am personally tired of going to dollar tree and seeing the endless amount of cheesy tinsel decor and signs that nobody would even find scary. So what has happened? What's with the decline of decor from scary almost haunted house like material to glitter spiders and cutesy ghost and goblins. What happened to the days when you could whip up a haunted house with some dollar store and Walmart items? Now days that idea seems almost impossible. Maybe im just some crazy person who has invested way to much time on tracking the evolution of dollar store decor or not. But hopefully others will agree with my statements on this.

AND Spirit store keeps getting BIGGER!!!! ;- )
Amazon or Spirit !
 

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AND Spirit store keeps getting BIGGER!!!! ;- )
Amazon or Spirit !
I'm relatively new to all this but have jumped in with both feet. I can agree about junky Halloween props but you get what you pay for. I don't expect much from a dollar store. you do have to understand that a dollar store that was a dollar store 20 years ago is still a dollar store 20 years later. I can't tell you one thing that I bought 20 years ago that still costs the same thing now.
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTION
I am not the craftiest guy out there. most of the stuff I see can put mine to shame but at night with strobe lights, fog machines, and creepy vibes, I can turn cheesy into scary. let this turn your wheels, get sticky hands from glue, and late nights in a garage.
I have been blessed where I don't have a budget for Halloween but I do know what is too dang expensive so I don't buy it. and when no one buys it, the man that made it realized he charged too much. things change. If you don't like it, don't support it. by the way, Alibaba has dropped my costs dramatically but pay for air shipping. my shipment of 300 plastic pumpkins happened to be a part of the shipping vessel fiasco in LA. I got it 2 weeks after Halloween!
 

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It was really shocking this year to see the pitiful Halloween selection everywhere, even Home Depot. Like most of you, I used to rely on halloween staples from DT, especially their plastic chains. I created a wonderful curtian on my front porch from them, they were lighter than Walmart, and cheaper. I just assumed it was the supply chain issues with covid, I guess we will see in the years to come.
We did get the best turn out at our haunt this last halloween, so I don't see that its lack of interest, but most people we talk to would never put in the amount of effort we do for a couple of days. That being said, we try to make most of our props ourselves, this forum is a fantastic resource of ideas!
Couple of my favorite items are light black landscaping fabric from Sam's Club, I use it for almost everything Halloween, repairing reapers and witch costumes, curtians, sails on pirate ships etc. You can make almost anything out of PVC, pool noodles and spray paint.
Styrafoam insulation for tombstones, walls and pillars. There are so many DIY tutorials out there, so there is no excuse to let the lack of premade halloween items dampen your "spirits"!
My biggest beef last year was how difficult it was to get a standard 5 ft skeleton, they are by far my favorite decorating item for Halloween and Christmas....and Mardi Gras!
Good luck to all, happy haunting!
 

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I look at items in the store more as a build-up to the fall and Halloween season, not so much to purchase. I was in DT once this past fall and that was enough. Needed a few cheap things for our Halloween party, and there was triple the amount of people in line than the number of items that I bought. We have a great collection of vintage collectibles, like blow molds and other things that are impossible to find, or very pricey. We prefer that look and I'm picky about anything new I buy anymore, because the things we have now are a lot cooler and honestly better made. One of the neatest things I bought the past few years was a potion prop that lights up and shakes. I saw it at my friend's party and he told me it was from K-mart. The next day I picked the last one up at a big discount for $10. Now it's rare, and the only one I've seen since was on E-bay for around $140. Some of the coolest Halloween things we've seen or bought have come from craft stores; basically unique items not mass produced.
 
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