Thursday, September 25, 2014


We hear occasionally that the economy is doing swell now, free from all the doldrums that have plagued us during the slowest economic recovery ever. But I have my doubts. Most of the evidence I can offer is anecdotal, and as we know, the plural of anecdote is not data.

One anecdote comes from Route 17 in New Jersey. As all Tri-State Areans (Areans? Is that a word?) know, Route 17 takes you through Paramus, one of the nation's great retail corridors. Mile after mile of chain stores, restaurants, mom & pop shops, fast-food joints, International House of Pancakes, specialty shops, banks, appliance stores, furniture stores, bookstores, pet stores, grocery stores, sporting good shops, etc, etc. etc. When the Internet boom started to kill off brick and mortar stores, Paramus endured. But the last seven years have seen many longstanding shops close, of various kinds (specialty sporting goods seem hard hit, from my observation). 

But don't worry! Help is on the way!

In the former location of an Eastern Mountain Sports is a Halloween store, replete with all your Halloween needs. Spirit is the largest chain of these I've seen, but this is another. They possess a dead retail location for six weeks or so leading up until October 31, then they disappear, leaving the space empty for another ten and a half months (unless lightning strikes and a new full-time tenant moves in). On a bus going north through Paramus on September 18 I counted three such temporary Halloween shops along Route 17.

On the east side of the road. There were more on the west side.

And a Party City.

I guess it's better than leaving the stores empty to rot, but this seems like an awful lot of Halloween. I have to wonder if we've reached peak Halloween. The National Retail Federation expects a big year, but spending was down in 2013 from 2012. Because of the economy. Which is doing better. Despite all the empty stores along Route 17 in Paramus.

So who the hell knows.

Interestingly, these same empty stores don't open as temporary Christmas retail locations. It's probably because every store becomes a Christmas retail location, even hardware stores---less so for Halloween, so there's a bigger opportunity.

But then again, it might be because Christmas is good...and Halloween is eeeeeeeviiiil!!!

Ooooh! Scary!

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