Pandemic creates challenges for Halloween stores


COVID-19 is forcing some Halloween shops to make changes including an increase in decor sales.

INDIANAPOLIS — The weeks leading up to Halloween are the busiest for costume shops, but COVID-19 is forcing some changes.

Ron’s Halloween and Patriotic Fireworks has been in business for nearly 35 years. Manager Jeri Hatfield said the store is seeing strong sales despite several obstacles.

“Our product seems to be in later than normal,” she said.

She’s managed the west side location for several years and said 2020 is a mix of challenges and traditions.

“Scary stuff for the little ones,” she said. “They seems to be really liking the scary stuff this year.”

Hatfield said despite it being an election year she’s not had a rush on costumes mimicking political figures.

“I’ve sold a few Trump masks this year so that’s political,” she laughed.

But perhaps the biggest seller isn’t even a costume.

“Sales are up for props and decor because I think more people are staying home this year,” Hatfield said.

That may be why Ron’s is one of the few remaining locally owned shops.

“Due to COVID-19 we are not open this year. We plan to be back next year. Happy Halloween,” is the recorded message you get when you call Monster’s RIP Halloween on the north side of Indianapolis.

Other local shops popular for Halloween, like Costumes by Margie, are also closed.

Hatfield said Ron’s has had to make changes to keep everyone safe.

“We cannot [allow customers to] try on any costumes, and they can’t take them out of the package, so we have to make sure that’s exactly what they want because there are no returns or exchanges due to COVID,” she said.

Only employees can take costumes out of the packaging and then hold them near a customer to check the fit.

Shoppers like Dustin Pugh are trying to figure out how to incorporate a mask this year for his children.

“Yeah it is definitely different. I don’t like it,” he said.

The CDC has put together a guide for Halloween during COVID.

The recommendations include making a cloth mask part of your outfit, but to not layer it over a costume mask which could make it difficult to breathe.

The CDC also recommends setting up a candy station with individually bagged items trick or treaters can grab from afar.