Scary Halloween Retail Bargains

Posted in General, Halloween Costumes, Halloween Home Haunts, Halloween Party, Halloween Props on September 14th, 2011 by Ghoul

As an online Halloween retailer, things have been getting quite unpleasant over the last few years due to a number of reasons and factors – One of the mains ones being that the high street competition is getting too strong to fight.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen the first Halloween items – Halloween Decorations, Halloween Costumes, Halloween Party stuff and more, stocked in the local high street stores and Supermarkets.
Some of the products are priced way below my suppliers prices that I would pay, but the product I buy is of much higher quality. There is no way the average consumer will pay the price I need to charge when they can get this cheaper product – in their mind, it’s a purchase that has to last a few days at most, so cheaper is good and quality much less of a consideration.

Last year we decided to clear out quite a bit of our Halloween Decoration stock – Halloween Decorations and Halloween Props that have sat there for a while, taking space and basically dead money. Across the lines, we made little or no profit, but at least it recouped some revenue from idle stock and cleared valuable space.

I can see why the public buy these Halloween products, they’re so cheap, there is also no postage to pay and they get to actually see what they are buying. I can totally understand the buyer mentality, why search and buy online when you can get what you want or quite similar in the high street stores quite cheaply.
These companies, the high street stores, have multiple outlets all over the country, the companies are large and have huge buying influence, often backed by well established import/packaging/distribution systems etc.

I always check out the high street Halloween offerings every year, here in the UK, I find that typically ASDA supermarkets and Poundland have offered aggressive pricing and wide product selection. Today, I came across a new chain, B&M, this chain are offering Halloween Decorations, Halloween Costumes and related Halloween products cheaper than Poundland – from my perspective, only the consumer can win here.

A number of years ago, we had a huge online turnover for Halloween Decorations via eBay, it quite literally took everything we had to process the volume of orders, manage stock, pack and post – some days taking several large mailbags to the Post Office and working into the early hours of the next morning getting the packing and labeling completed.
The following two years declined sharply, for a number of reasons:

  • Competition grew - both online and on the high street, Halloween Costumes being the first items they stocked in abundance.
  • The economic downturn hit – as a result, people had much less cash to spend, so they either re-used what they had or simply cut back on spending.
  • Here in the uk, the postal service decided to strike right in the peak period – this totally decimating what was left of that online Halloween retail season.
  • Our main suppliers cut more lines each year, reducing the diverse collection we had, specially some of our more profitable lines and higher volume Halloween Decorations.
  • Our competitors caught on to our products, which is fair enough, but decided to sell them at stupid prices resulting in really low margins, destroying the product value and profit for all involved.
  • High street competition hit harder, offering lower quality Halloween products at low prices

 

As well as monitoring the High Street Halloween offering, I also monitor online sales activity and products offered, for this year so far and last year:

  • Reduced variety of Products – many sellers now offering the same products, resulting in a price war – it’s the only difference they can give.
  • The actual amount of units sold is reducing  (based upon monitoring eBay completed listings reports)
  • On Auction sites, the item price remains low and little bid activity, if any, takes place.
  • The Halloween sales season shortens, at our peak, we was busy from July to a few days before Halloween, now that seasonal sales window is much shorter, due to people spending less and also waiting to see what the High street will be offering before topping up via online stores.

 

As a Halloween retailer, this is quite unpleasant – as a Halloween prop and Haunt builder this is quite good. This does give a cheap source of supplies to use to re-purpose within Halloween props and Haunt products. I can get cheap Halloween costumes and Cheap Halloween Masks for props and characters, skulls and animated products to hack and re-use.

Halloween is greatly important to me and my business – and will always remain that way.
The only thing that will change is the way we operate our Halloween business – I am constantly exploring new potential markets, new customer bases and new products.

Whatever happens – Halloween must always remain Scary Fun for all the Family

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Cheap Halloween Decoration Bargains

Posted in General, Halloween Home Haunts, Halloween Party, Halloween Props on July 29th, 2010 by Ghoul

Get ready for low priced halloween decoration bargains.

While stocks remain, get cheap halloween party decorations and halloween props.

These halloween bargains are limited stock quantity, once they’ve been sold – that’s it, gone for this year.

Many of the items are even below cost price, we’re clearing the oddments, clearing the space, so grab your halloween bargain while you can.

Cheap Halloween Decoration
[Click to See More Info]

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Spider and Pumpkin Door Curtains – Halloween Decoration

Posted in General, Halloween Home Haunts, Halloween Party, Halloween Props on July 20th, 2010 by Ghoul

We’re happy to annouce that we now have stock of the Spider and Pumpkin Door Curtain Halloween Decorations.

These have been very popular products for a number of years now and no doubt will be this year.

Pumpkin Door Curtain Halloween Decoration
[Click to See More Info on our Pumpkin Door Curtain]

Spider Door Curtain Halloween Decoration
[Click to See More Info on our Spider Door Curtain]

These Door Curtains are great halloween decorations for Halloween Party Fun – use them as the entry to your party room, kitchen or even loo!!.

We’ve used these many times, re-using them year after year, we simply attach them to the wall or top of the door frame with blu-tack or similar.  We’ve also used two of these, side by side, to cover patio doors.

These Halloween Door Curtains add character and feature to your party environment is seconds.

Do you already have a Halloween Haunt or Halloween Yard display or maybe planning one – then why not use these for wall or door covering?

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Hauntcrew.co.uk – growth planned

Posted in General, Halloween Home Haunts, Halloween Props on March 20th, 2010 by Ghoul

Halloween, as a seasonal event in the uk, grows in size and popularity every year – the amount people spend increases, together with ever growing number of halloween attractions, events, parties and home-haunts.

Halloween haunts and attrations of any scale can benefit from one to many scare-actors.  Static and animated decorations and props add value and boo factors, but remain just props.

Scare-actors add a totally dynamic and ‘live’ element, they can add random behaviour to the event, responding to the visitors, increasing the fear factor as needed or, indeed, reducing it and catering for totally terrified.

This all said, it’s time to add features to HauntCrew.co.uk – these features available to haunt planners, operators and scare-actors alike.  A resource to gather hints, tips and seek advice, swap tips and knowledge.

Visit back often to get the latest updates – why not Follow us on Twitter to get the updates as they happen.

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Halloween 2009 – Retail Trick or Treat?

Posted in General on November 22nd, 2009 by Ghoul

According to some reports, Halloween 2009 was a retail success, with increased sales over 2008.

Internet, mail-order and phone sales are reported to be up 18% on last year, considering the postal strikes, this is very good.

The High street sales are reported to have been increased, attributed to non-food shopping items, which includes Halloween Decorations and Halloween Fancy Dress items.   Sales are reported to  have risen by 3.8% by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – this being hailed as the best month since 2002.

Other reports show Waitrose having 30% increase in pumpkin sales and 21% increase in Halloween themed treats.

Timing may have been a significant contributing factor to these increased sales.  Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, at the end of the half term holiday for most children.

In reality, is this really a significant increase, these figures are actually set against the same period for 2008, a period when the economic downturn was already established.  Remember that there was also a reduced VAT level through this 2009 period.

We know from our own business that business last year was lower then before and the business this year was even worse.  Typically operating costs are higher, product costs have increased every time a supplier can get away with it, but the consumer will not pay more, therefore it’s typically the retailer in the middle that suffers – we know this as a reality, it wasn’t a shock nor are we complaining, it’s just a simple painful fact that we needed to factor into this years business.

Not wanting to blacken the hopes of market recovery, I just wanted to add a note of harsh reality to the reported upturn in the sales, the proof is actually within the actual profit margin for the season – we can all sell more for less, but profit really counts.

As every year, we carefully research the competition, the products, prices, advertising etc, this year the high street presence actually seemed quite minimal, including the major supermarkets.  Our biggest business threat seemed to come from the lower priced shops – Poundland in particular have gained a significant marketplace in the pocketmoney costume, low cost partywares and decorations arena.

Although I’ve not seen reports of the USA Halloween market performance for 2009, they had expectations that their market could be 15% down.

I perceive that Halloween 2010 may be even more harsh for the smaller business and retailer, again the suppliers will increase the prices, there very well could be more unemployed and more people keeping spending to a bare minimum.

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Halloween Pumpkin Recipe Ideas – More than a pretty face?

Posted in General on October 30th, 2009 by Ghoul

Well, you may have one or more pumpkins, you’re about to cut off the lid, rip out the brains and carve a ghoulish face in its flesh. There are many other options to use the seeds and flesh that you are about to throw in the bin, just read on before wielding that knife!!
You can make treats for your family, for a Halloween Party or just tasty snacks.

Uses for Pumpkin Flesh:

Pumpkin Pie.
In a pre-heated oven, bake a pastry case, using rice or beans to weigh down foil or greaseproof paper, uncover for the last 5 minutes.
Puree the freshly scooped pumpkin flesh with a food processor or blender. Cook this puree in a pan for about 30 minutes, once cool, mix with whipping cream, beaten eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. You can add a spot of brandy if you wish for that special touch.
Spoon this mixture into the pastry case, bake for around 8 minutes at 400 degrees, then 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. You may need to foil the exposed pastry edges to prevent burning. Test with a knife, insert into the middle, if it comes out clean, it’s ready!

Pumpkin Soup.
Normally cooked and served in small pumpkins, but can be made with the flesh removed during pumpkin carving.
Chop the flesh, putting into a ovenproof dish, with a lid. Layer the pumpkin flesh with croutons, sautéed onion, gruyere cheese. Cover with cream and season with salt and a little pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for up to 1.5 hours, until the flesh is soft enough to mix into the mixture.
Serve in a bowl with a little bread – Great to eat while sitting in a candle lit room, watching a great horror movie with friends or loved ones.

Pumpkin Seed Ideas:

Pumpkin seeds make delicious snacks, consider keeping a few back too, you could grow your own pumpkins next year!!
Pumpkin seeds are a great nutritious product, loaded with fibre and minerals phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, amino acids, zinc also providing a good source of protein and vitamins, including vitamin C, Vitamin E and vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Niacin.

Clean the seeds whilst the flesh is still moist, ensuring all the flesh is removed. Allow to dry on waxed or kitchen paper, foil or baking tray.

Pumpkin Seed Nibbles.
Melt some butter in a microwave or pan. Mix the seeds in the butter and spread over a baking sheet. Roast in microwave on high level for up to 8 minutes, perhaps in 1 or 2 minute bursts, stirring frequently, until turning golden.
You can do the same in a conventional oven, baking on a moderate heat ot around 350 degrees for up to an hour, checking and shaking frequently until golden.

Season with your desired seasoning, some ideas are salt, pepper, chilli powder, steak seasoning, a little sugar, maple or golden syrup, garlic salt, perhaps onion powder or maybe soy sauce.

Don’t foget to check the Halloween Project List at GhoulishGadgets for ideas for your Halloween Party, Halloween Haunt or Halloween Props and Decorations.

Halloween Costume – Make your own, Ideas and Advice

Posted in General on October 29th, 2009 by Ghoul

Halloween Costumes and Fancy Dress – Awesome fun, but can be a nightmare in respect to expense or time. You can buy or hire, this will solve the time issue.
But to solve the expense issue, there is the option of buying a cheap Halloween costume and improving it, also making it unique to you, or make your own.

To find the base garment for your Halloween Costume, assuming you’ve decided what you want to look like, could be quite easy – maybe modify existing clothing, dresses, skirts, shirts, trousers, t-shirts etc. Other sources of material for your Halloween Fancy Dress may be old sheets, table covers, curtains, anything really that is either very cheap, maybe damaged or no longer used.

You may need to buy some garments or cloth items for your creation, the obvious place is the second hand and charity shops, you will find an amazing amount of useful goodies for very little cost, any you’re helping charity too!! You may also find good accessories to embellish your outfit, old jewellery and the like.

If you’re creating Childrens Halloween Costumes, maybe even get together with other mums and carers, set some time aside to have a fun time buying and making the Fancy Dress Outfits, maybe even share each others materials and skills.

Some Halloween Costume ideas:

Pirate
Always a popular theme, you need baggy black or brown trousers or jeans, cut them below the knee and maybe give a roughened, almost torn edging.. For the top, a baggy white shirt, ideally cuffed up. Finish this with a waistcoat, easily made, to be worn over the shirt. Boots, gold hoop earrings, a sword, an eye patch, then a hat or bandana completes the outfit. This costume can be easily changed to a female pirate, short jagged skirt, boots and fishnets.

Vampire
Very simple, black trousers, white shirt, maybe a waistcoat, bow-tie or similar neck accessory, wax or gel your hair back, white face makeup, maybe blacken the eyes a little and a blood dribble on the chin. For fangs, it’s probably best to buy some cheap ones, all sorts are available. Finish with black shoes.

Ghost
Possibly one of the oldest and easiest ghoulish Halloween costumes around. You just need a large white sheet that completely covers the person. Simply place over the person, with arms down and cut around the bottom, allowing a small gap to prevent dragging or risk of tripping. From there just add eyeholes, add a piece of white net on the inside of these eyeholes if you wish to cover a little. You could finish with fake chain made from paper, rolled into tubes and formed into links, painted or covered with aluminium foil. Maybe even use a different coloured fabric and sew or stick letters on the front to say BOO!!

Scarecrow
Very simple – find the right hat and some straw used for pet bedding and old clothes. The clothes need to be oversized, with baggy shirt, flannel or chequed are ideal, and trousers, adding holes to look aged and maybe pop out some straw. If you can get some straw to come out of the sleeves and legs, be careful not to make it itchy or scratchy. Old overalls would work very well too. For the hands, either fingerless gloves or garden gloves and old shoes or boots, adding holes maybe for effect. Face paint would finish it nicely. Other accessories can include a fake crow, flowers etc

Tin Man
Following from Scarecrow, another great and simple Kids Halloween Costume would be the Tin Man from the wizard of Oz. Get some old boxes, cover with aluminium foil, silver paint or silver wrapping paper, silver face paint and a funnel on the head!!. Maybe get some gloves and glue card tubes, cut to shape and allowing movement, for tin man hands. Check online and look at the facial detail, just draw on some black lines at the mouth and chin.

Witch
This can be made numerous ways, tighter costumes with puffy or flowing skirts, simpler with darker clothing and a cape. The hat can be made from card, covering with fabric if you want that extra finish. Broomsticks, simply an old cane or brush stave with a pile of straw ties to the end. Although not a must, face paint does add great effect to a witch outfit, for me the most impressive is the all green face, like the witch from the Wizard of Oz movie. A crooked nose is good, you maybe better buying this as you can get them very cheaply. For a younger witch, either use black tights or you can buy coloured striped tights quite cheaply, maybe for a teen or adult witch, with a sexier look, use a shorter skirt rather than flowing, fishnets and boots.

Black Cat
Again, very easy, ideally use some sort of old cat suit if possible, or make one from black fabric. Alternatives include just tight black shirt and trousers. From there, you just need a tail, use cloth covered hose or similar, avoid hard wire in case of harming people, you could also make a longer cloth tail, that can be carried and swung around. Facially, there are many cat styles you can create, all over colours, just whiskers, eye patches etc. Ears can be made by making cloth or card ears and attaching to an old headband or just some elastic.

If you’re making masks or want decoration ideas, then pop over to GhoulishGadgets, there is a whole list collected from the internet of Halloween ideas, props and decorations.

As with all Halloween activity, try to make it fun, that’s what it’s all about.

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Maybe THE BEST Halloween Decoration?

Posted in Halloween Props on October 25th, 2009 by Ghoul

I’m a huge SAW movie Fan, so when I saw this I was totally blown away.

It’s described as one of a kind, being cast from the actual puppet from SAW II movie.  It’s 43″ tall, all parts cast from the original puppet, including hands and feet, then hand painted.

You need to see it, it really is just amazing, click here for all the details

For information about SAW VI, visit the SAW6 Movie site

Halloween Fancy Dress Ideas for 2009

Posted in Halloween Costumes on October 21st, 2009 by Ghoul

No matter if you’re going to a halloween Fancy dress party or need a Halloween Costume for trick or treat, there are many options to fit everyones needs and budgets. You can get creative and make the costume, perhaps watch a movie and research the outfit, well that would be my excuse! I would recommend it though if you need to get familiar with the outfits and masks etc. You could hire quite impressive looking and good quality costumes, sometime for less than the price of buying a costume.

Michael Jackson: Some may be offended by this idea, others may not, each person to their own opinion.
The Most common outfit will be the Thriller costume, comprising the Red Leather Jacket, with Black Stripes.  This costume is already available from many stores (including wigs and masks), or you could try to create it yourself.

Super Hero: Batman, Robin, Spiderman, X Men etc. These costumes are readily available from stores, making them would be quite complex, but go for it if you have the time, material, perhaps a sewing machine and the needed skills.  The easy part for these costumes is the masks, either buy them or make from coloured card, maybe thin coloured foam or even print out a mask and cut it out.

Super Villain: just way too many to list, but as for the Super Heros above, these Halloween Fancy Dress costumes, they are readily available in many stores or can be made at home, if you have the time and ability.

Freddy Krueger: Quite simple, again can be purchased, but most of the costume is easily made, just find a striped jumper and make the knifed gloves – just buy a mask.

Jason Vorhees (Friday 13th): Again, either buy or make. to make, all you really need to buy or borrow is a hockey mask. It would be quite possible to make a mask from paper mache.

Michael Meyers (Halloween): The secret to this again is the mask, using paper mache has been mentioned before, this would work here too, otherwise you need to buy one.

Saw Movies: Make a pig mask from paper mache, finish with a cloak. Perhaps get really fancy and create a billy mask, the puppet, then complete with black jacket, white shirt and black bowtie.

Other similar characters are Hannibal Lecter, PinHead from HellRaiser – masks can be purchased or made for both.

To make masks, take a look at GhouishGadgets Mask section – with plans to make halloween fancy dress masks
GhoulishGadgets also has pages for Latex Moulding and casting – a great way to make masks with amazing detail, that also ensure a good fit too.

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Scare Actors : Add the BOO Factor to your home haunt or party

Posted in Halloween Home Haunts, Halloween Party on October 20th, 2009 by Ghoul

Depending upon your venue, you may have need for real people to add the BOO Factor to your event.

If it’s just a party, you could simply have an Igor character – handing out drinks and snacks, dropping strange comments and doing similar strange things..

If you have a home haunt of any size, you can add real people to give it that unknown element for your visitors.  These people, often termed Scare Actors or Scareactors can be friends and family, volunteers or even paid staff.

What is important is image, planning, training, direction and rules.

Scare Actor image: take time to give a quality look to your scare actors, dress them in quality costumes or tske time to make impressive outfits.  Make up should be considered carefully also, there is nothing better than visitors going away talking about the quality of your event.  If you can afford it, spend a little on good brand make up, maybe latex wounds and features – special effect contact lenses always wow people

Planning: Your scare actor is bascially another prop in your haunt, typically give them a specific area or zone to work in, perhaps with other props that they can use to maximise the impact – chains, chainsaws, axes, fake body parts etc.  Consider the lighting and space for the area they will operate, perhaps where they can hide and appear from, maybe secret areas where thay can get from one part to another without the visitors seeing them. Take into account that a scare actor may need time to reset the scene or his/her position before the next visitors arrive in the area or zone.

Casting: It may sound over the top, but you may need to actually cast the scare actors – for any scale event.  You will need to find people with the right body sizes, voices and character to maximise the part and effect.  It may be hard to say no to close friends and family, so maybe offer them other task.

Direction: Actually, I mean have a storyline, give your haunt a story, a reason for the events and characters. You don’t actually have to tell your visitors, but it will help to gel your event and improve the visitors experience.  Having a story will mean you can give the scare actors specific roles, with defined character, location and maybe behaviour.  This could even mean having a script for the actors.

Training: Train your scare actors, rehearse the event, maybe even get friends to walk through to test it. This will ensure that all runs smoothly on the night or nights. It also gives you a great reason to have an after event party!

Feeding and Watering Scare Actors: remember that your staff may need to have breaks, refreshments and toilet! Either swap scare actors around or control the flow of visitors to allow this, you can allow people to build up a little, then let them in in groups.

Rules: One general rule is that they should never touch the visitors, there are too many complications, including legal, with this – some get offended, someone could claim harm, others damaged clothing etc, it’s not worth the trouble. Equally, visitors should not touch, or abuse, physically or otherwise, any of your staff, this should be reported to the owner/operator and the offender removed without delay.

Scare Level: Ensure they consider the victim, I mean visitor, if they’re already terrified, don’t over-do it, try to avoid making anyone cry, especially small children, perhaps try to have a slight comical side to some characters where small tots are concerned.

Don’t forget to check the List of Halloween projects on GhoulishGadgets – Halloween Props, Halloween Costumes and much more.

In general, it’s all about both haunt staff and visitors enjoying themselves.

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