Nothing quite says the death of capitalism like the arrival of the Spirit Halloween Superstores. Every Fall, when things are dying, the seasonal retailer possesses the space of recently the recently deceased, giving them a temporary yet tortured afterlife. Not really alive but not quite dead, the Spirit Halloween Superstore is the George Romero flesh-eating zombie of the retail world. Or maybe it’s like that big human cicada monster from the 1982 dimly lit gore flick The Beast Within. I’m not quite sure but it is fitting that they trade in so much ghoulish paraphernalia. Yesterday I was stunned but not really surprised when I noticed that the last location of Cody’s Books had some Day-Glo orange vinyl Spirit banners tackily (but oh so adequately) covering up the Cody’s Books sign. The once beloved independent bookseller that originally opened in 1956 was now nothing more than a host body being used to push Barrack Obama masks, really creepy Heath Ledger as the Joker outfits and slutty nurse costumes.
The Spirit Halloween Superstore is indiscriminating. It could have chosen the recently defunct Ross Dress For Less across the street from Cody’s but it didn’t care. If you’re a shopkeeper, the Spirit is your boogeyman. While it may only appear for a month or two out of the year, it’s always nipping at your heels – reminding you of the price of failure.
And there’s plenty of failure to go around these days. With the current financial meltdown, Spirit certainly doesn’t have a shortage of locations to choose from. In fact, they probably have their pick of some pretty posh properties….
Cody's Books closed on June 20, 2008. I had a reading booked there on June 30th. I went ahead with the reading anyway and read on the sidewalk in front of the place. You can read my original blog about it here. And for those that didn't see it, Fora.TV shot video of it