Party Stores: My Saturday Shopping Adventure
Ever since I read about the arrival of the Spirit Halloween Store chain making its way north into Ontario, I was determined to visit. As a Canadian, I'd read post after post on forums from American haunters who make Spirit sound like a holy ground. A trek out to Mississauga was in order.
The Amazing Party Store is another haunter haven that I've been meaning to hit. Every year, CityTV News does a series of spots from their place at Halloween. Since it's on the way to Mississauga, I decided to add it to my list of destinations for the day. Yetch was kind enough to accompany me.
My first impression of the Amazing Party Store was promising. Countless spectres and ghouls hung from the ceiling. The shelves were fully stocked with items, and there were a number that I hadn't seen at other party stores. I was excited.
At closer inspection the props weren't outstanding, but there were a lot of them. Complete aisles dedicated to body parts or decapitated heads. Impressive. Time for the pricing test: where does this shop stand compared to other stores? Remember, I've been following my maniacal moneysaving manifesto, which means I've been to all my favourite affordable stores first.
I picked up a heart prop and turned it over to spy the price tag. Specifically (since there are many versions out there), it's the one in the plastic grey tray. I bought this prop a couple of weeks ago at Party Packagers for $5.00. So how much was it being sold for here? $14.99! Sweet lord! And that pretty much was par for the course throughout the entire store.
Final thoughts on the Amazing Ripoff...er...Amazing Party Store: if you have loads of money, no time to shop, and no interest in building your own props, head on over to the Amazing Party Store. The one positive thing I can say about it (besides the eerie eye-candy) is they offer a handful of items I've only seen offered online by American stores: you might save a buck or two by avoiding brokerage fees. Me? I'm not paying $64 for a webcaster (fancy hot glue gun that you use to make spiderwebs) I know is worth $45, even if it is the first one I've seen stocked on a shelf in Ontario.
On to Spirit.
I liked Spirit. It didn't have as many items as I thought it would, but it did have dollar-for-dollar prices that matched what our American neighbours get. It, too, had a number of items I'd only seen online, and a collection of more expensive props including a mechanical Hannibal Lecter and Jason Voorhees.
Funny enough, I was more impressed with a static witch that came up to my waist. Sure, I'd never fork over the money for it ($250) BUT it was the first item of the day that inspired an audible oooooooo from me.
What Spirit lacked in quantity it made up for in quality. Overall, there were few items that looked really cheap (well, besides the collapsible trash can item. What's up with that?).
Their selection of black lights were the best I've seen all year. And that was fantastic because it was on my list of 'must haves' for this year's haunt. Sure, I have some black incandescents that provide mood lighting rather than true glow-in-the-dark effects, but it's time for something better.
I bought a 48 inch blacklight. The best part? I'd seen ones less than half the size at the other store for $20+. This one was priced at $35, but with my 20% off coupon and some odd new product promo discount, I ended up paying a total of $23 and change. Nice.
And when I priced out body parts? They were on par with my cheaper stores.
The best part of the day (besides my rockin' deal on the light) was watching Yetch - who never comes out Halloween shopping - discovering and getting excited over props that have been around for years. Rookie.