Winding my way through the crowded aisles of temporary Halloween speciality stores this week, I was struck by how they reflect society and its interests in celebrities, as well as how they look for ways to be scary and innovative at the same.
Sign of the times
There will always be superheroes for little boys, sexy wench costumes for 20-somethings and creepy clown outfits for guys. But if you want to go political in 2015, think a caricature of Donald Trump. At the Spirit store on Highway 50 in Fairview Heights, get a $14.99 blond “Comb Over Candidate” wig. The only other thing you need is a suit and tie.
If you want to spark some controversy, the store also has the “Decathalon Track Star” (shorts, metal, jersey, brown wig, $39.99) and the Caitlyn Corset & Wig” ensemble (long brown wig, corset and shorts, $49.99). I think you can figure this one out for yourselves. (You can also buy just the wigs for under $17 each.)
The store has a very loud and scary display as you enter, so beware if you’re bringing young children in with you.
A separate room at the back is for scary decorating and includes a group of plastic and metal signs for $12.99 that announce things like “Zombie Hunting Permits Sold Here,” a coffin-shaped sign with “Blood Bank, Nightime Drop Off” and more.
Larger than life
You’ll find much of the same, though a wider selection of costumes but fewer wigs, at Halloween Express just a block down from Spirit.
I don’t know any parent who wants to spend this much money, but the store sells an innovative “Jurassic World” inflatable T-Rex dinosaur costume for kids at $69.99. It stays inflated with a battery-operated fan inside the suit, which you zip your child into. You have to buy your own batteries.
The store carries a pretty good line of plus-size costumes for women, from that beer-serving fraulein to Indian maiden to Red Riding Hood. Most are about $70.
And there’s a back decor room here, too, with faux tombstones for $3.99 and up. You can also check out bloody body parts and furry spiders, rats and evil babies.
Learn to twirl
In downtown Belleville, Tribout’s on South Illinois Street has a fun selection of facial hair for guys. Whether you want sideburns (disco or Elvis) or mustaches, you’ll find them here. The mustache line is pretty extensive. Check out the shapes for Charlie Chaplin, Groucho, Poncho Villa, Zorro, Fu Manchu, gangster, hippie or others. Most are under $2 and $3 and self-adhesive. A three-piece eyebrow set is $4.
Walmart in O’Fallon (and other locations) has just what you need to show your Halloween spirit: a coozie for your cold beverage can. At 97 cents, slip one on and raise a toast. Some have ghoulish patterns while others have messages: “I’m with Creepy,” “Trick or Beer” and more.
If you need something more tasteful, the black wreath decorated with faux Candy Corn is pretty attractive for $19.99.
And, in case the evening of the 31st is chilly, wrap yourself up in a $2.88 fleece throw that comes in Halloween patterns.
Be bowled over
Head to At Home (formerly Garden Ridge) in O’Fallon and notice that Christmas has truly overtaken Halloween. The store is low on spooky supplies, but I did find some very nice black ceramic bowls with a skeleton design inside. Plenty big for holding treats for the tricksters, it’s $14.99.
And, if you just want something non-Halloween for the front yard, I liked the metal whirligig stakes with leaf-shaped blades that will spin in the autumn breeze. They’re $9.99 and can stay out long past Oct. 31.
In a fog
In downtown Belleville, Ben’s has a really fun item called a Freaky Foggers Pumpkin Fogger, on sale for $9.97. It’s a kit that lets you take your own pumpkin (you buy separately), carve it with the included tools, insert an included tray (add water) and then the fogger device. You’ll need an extension cord. Results are pretty awesome as the fog leaks out of the face and changes color!