Halloween 'pop-up' store gets temporary haunt on Harlem

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By NICK MORONI

A national chain of novelty and costume stores will set up shop temporarily in Forest Park next month, at the former site of Blockbuster Video, 109 Harlem Ave.

Spirit Halloween is slated to open in the 5,500-square-foot shop some time next month, according to Larry Locascio, senior director of Burr Ridge-based Champion Commercial Realty, LLC, who helped broker the company's short-term lease. Spirit plans to keep its doors open for about 60 days, shutting down some time in November, he said.

Spirit's owner Spencer Gifts LLC, and the operators of other "pop-up stores" as they're known, rent spaces temporarily during holiday months. Once the season is over they pack up and move on. And Halloween, alone, is a lucrative holiday, netting more than $5 billion nationally, the Florida Times-Union reported in an article about such stores last week, citing the National Retail Federation.  

"They are a very organized company. And it's nice to have a tenant and have activity in the building, even in a short-term [lease] ... because it will assist in the overall marketing efforts by bringing attention to the building and activity there," Locascio said.

The store sells Halloween costumes, decorations and a variety of other novelties. In short, "Spirit Halloween's specialty retail stores are the most comprehensive one-stop destinations for everything shoppers can imagine for Halloween," the company's website reads.

This Halloween season, Spirit will open over 900 stores in 48 states and parts of Canada, according to the website. What's more, over a dozen will open in Chicagoland this Halloween season.

"The owners are very pleased to have Spirit as a tenant," Locascio said.

The building is owned by a private land trust, represented by Locascio. "They've owned the real estate for quite some time," he said.

The building has been vacant for about a year now, since the previous tenant, Blockbuster Video, closed its doors due to lagging sales. It had been in the Harlem Avenue spot for some 17 years.

Prior to Blockbuster, a Sizzler steakhouse was there in the 1980s. Another steakhouse, Rustler, was there before Sizzler, according to Locascio.

Locascio said that, although he and his clients are happy to have a tenant, the search for a long-term tenant is ongoing.

"We think it's a great location with high traffic counts on Harlem Avenue. There's plenty of parking. And, as you well know, we have a neighborhood, in Forest Park and Oak Park that's high density and high demographics," Locascio said.

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