Many grave markers, gory fake body parts, coffins, and other scary Halloween decorations may stay in storage this year as some people opt for a more lighthearted approach to the Oct. 31 holiday.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and this week's military retaliation, experts at several Halloween-gear outlets say they have noticed a slight decrease in sales of scary home and yard decorations, as customers favor the fun stuff.
At least one area store yanked what it deemed “inappropriate” Halloween decorations from its shelves about a week after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“We took the packaged [fake] body parts off the shelf when [rescuers] started to give up the search for people,” said Nan Christensen, co-owner of American Display, Inc., on Ontario Street. “It's just not appropriate to carry those products because of what's going on.”
The fake body parts are used mainly as party, porch, and yard decorations, and to accessorize costumes, she said.
Shirley Rodd, manager of Star Design Costumes, said the West Sylvania Avenue store has sold more conventional yard signs and has experienced a “slight decrease” in scarier products.
“The decorations we have sold are signs that read `Monster Crossing' or `Enter if You Dare.' These signs are more comical and not really something that will scare the kids. ... This year everybody wants to be the good guy,” said Ms. Rodd.
The shift away from ghoulish products this Halloween extends beyond costumes and accessories.
Sherri VanDoren, spokeswoman for Gags and Gifts, Inc., in Livonia, Mich., said advertising by parent company Halloween USA is more lighthearted this year.
“We talked [before Sept. 11] about maybe using a bleeding screen image in our advertising, but we made the decision not to do it because people could possibly react in a negative way,” said Ms. VanDoren.
Still, sales of Halloween decorations at some stores are much the same as in past years.
“People are asking for limbs, cobwebs, gravestones, and all types of Halloween stuff to decorate,” said Amber Myers, manager of Costume Holiday House on Monroe Street. “We really haven't seen a decrease [in decoration sales], except for the rise in patriotic costumes. ... People want to keep on doing what they've been doing at Halloween.”
At Party City Corp.'s store on Monroe Street, sales of Halloween party and decorating items have increased.
“In fact, sales in those categories have experienced dramatic growth over the past five years,” said Erik Mandell, Party City spokesman. Still, he advised, when decorating a home or yard make sure that decorations are going to “thrill and not chill” your guests.