There’s one thing that comes back to life every Halloween -- and I don’t mean zombies, ghosts, or goblins. I’m talking about the Halloween pop-up store. This year, temporary Halloween shops should perform well, with consumers expected to spend $8 billion on the holiday, according to the NRF’s 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight.

But despite its name, a Halloween pop-up store doesn’t just pop up. Spirit Halloween, for instance, which is the world’s largest Halloween specialty store, begins planning next year’s operational strategy the moment this year’s Halloween is over.

We learned a lot more about Spirit Halloween and the life cycle of its operations when we interviewed Frank Pacera, the organization’s Senior Director of Real Estate. He told us about the stringent process Spirit Halloween has developed to locate, open, run, and close nearly 1,000 stores for the 2012 Halloween season. We encourage you to give our podcast a listen for the scoop.

Here’s the index if you’d like to jump ahead to a certain question.

  • 0:30 About Spirit Halloween
  • 1:47 When Spirit Halloween begins preparing for the Halloween season
  • 2:27 The life cycle of Spirit Halloween
  • 4:46 Whether Spirit Halloween goes back to previous locations
  • 5:53 What Spirit Halloween looks for in a location
  • 6:29 How Spirit Halloween sets up its stores
  • 7:06 Challenges facing pop-up retailers that permanent retailers don’t experience
  • 9:17 About the Spirit of Children charity initiative

Or if you’d prefer reading our interview, here’s the transcript.

As Frank explained in our interview, Spirit Halloween’s process requires careful planning, and a large team to scout out temporary leases in strong markets. Lease negotiations typically take about eight months, during which Spirit Halloween also starts ordering inventory, and interviewing, hiring, and training temporary workers. Summers are spent building out the stores, in time to open around Labor Day.

You can see some of the results of Spirit Halloween’s efforts in these photos of Spirit Halloween and the Spirit of Children event that Frank mentions in our podcast.

This year, Spirit Halloween has located 15 of its stores at Kimco shopping centers, including The Shoppes at Rivergate, Pleasant Valley Promenade, Marketplace Square, Riverplace Shopping Center, Renaissance Centre, Woodbury Centre, and Independence Plaza, to name a handful. Kimco has a total of 30 Halloween temporary store deals this season.

If you’re a retailer, how to do you prepare for the Halloween season? Have there been any special challenges or opportunities for you this year?

This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.