Whatcom County stores expect Halloween to scare up lots of sales



Dressing up as your favorite zombie has become big business, and retailers are expecting even more sales this Halloween.

Seasonal stores already have sprung up in Whatcom County. Retailers are seeing costume and candy purchases more than a month before Halloween.

"More people seem to get on board each year when it comes to buying costumes," said Laura Diaz-Price, manager at the Bellingham Value Village store.

Last year an estimated $6.8 billion was spent on Halloween across the U.S., up from $5.8 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. A Value Village survey predicts spending will be up another 10 percent this year.

In Bellingham, three major seasonal stores have opened: Spirit Halloween is in the former Good Guys! building on East Bellis Fair Parkway, Halloween City in Sunset Square and Spookshop at the Bakerview Fred Meyer shopping center.

According to the Value Village survey, 50 percent of this year's costumes will be inspired by movies and television shows, with "The Avengers," and "The Walking Dead" being among the most popular. Being that this is a presidential election year, politics also will be a popular theme.

Picking the right costume is a big deal to many: According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents will be more stressed about picking a costume than who they are voting for president.

Along with back-to-school shopping, Halloween tends to be an early indicator of how the November-December holiday shopping season will fare. According to the NRF, spending during the holidays totals around $450 billion in the U.S., dwarfing Halloween and other holidays like Easter ($14.6 billion), Valentine's Day ($14.1 billion) and the unofficial Super Bowl holiday ($10.1 billion).

In preparation for the Halloween season, the Bellingham Value Village store has costume consultants available to help customers pick out items. While the store has a large section of just costumes, many Halloween fans enjoy going through the consignment clothes to find unique items.

"We're popular for people who are looking for that one-of-a-kind item so they can stand out at a party," Diaz-Price said.

MAJOR LIQUOR RETAILER LOOKING AT BELLINGHAM MARKET

BevMo!, a liquor store chain, has applied for a state liquor license to open in the Bellingham market.

According to the application, the company wants to operate at 114 Stuart Road, in the retail center near Walmart that has United Furniture as a tenant.

BevMo! has 121 stores in California, Arizona and Washington and typically has a store size of 10,000 square feet. It has been busy opening stores in this state since the passage of Initiative 1183, recently in Silverdale and Tacoma, with plans to open in Tukwila on Friday, Sept. 28.

OTHER TIDBITS

• Bellingham Baby Company is moving into a bigger space in the Barkley District. According to its Facebook page, the company will move nearby to the former Apple Yarns space in early October. Apple Yarns recently moved into a bigger space on Iowa Street.

• A Bellingham permit application was submitted to do $4 million in remodeling work at the Lakeway Fred Meyer.

• Tenant improvement permits were approved by the city to allow a Chico's clothing store at Bellis Fair. According to its website, Chico's is scheduled to open in October.

• A permit was approved to build a 6,446-square-foot Auto Zone store at 1926 James St.

• A restaurant/bar state liquor license application was filed for the former Prospect Street Café space at 114 Prospect St. The business name on the application is The Real McCoy Home Bar & Kitchen and the applicant is Brandon Wicklund.

• We've Got the Scoop, an ice cream eatery, is now open in Blaine. It's at 677 Peace Portal Drive.

• Ferndale has issued building permits to Jack in the Box, which plans to build a restaurant on Main Street, in front of the Ferndale Haggen.




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