Ray Pogue, who owns two party stores in Modesto, would be dismayed every year about this time when corporate Halloween retailers would open temporary stores in the area.
This year, the owner of Grand Events and The Party Guys decided to do something about it. He is opening up his own Halloween superstore. He took over the former Ross store on Dale Road, just down from The Party Guys. The Halloween Guys will open Friday.
“We’re excited,” Pogue said. “It’s something new and different.”
Pogue also is working with the Higbee family, which has hosted an ever-growing haunted house in its backyard for the last five years. Higbee Horror Haunt will open Oct. 5. There will be a scary maze, complete with volunteers popping out to scare the dickens out of visitors.
For children, there will be a separate maze without the scares. “Mellow, but interactive,” said Jon Scott, who is overseeing production on the haunted houses.
“For people who love that kind of stuff, it’s something Modesto hasn’t seen,” Pogue said.
He shared this surprising (at least, to me) fact: Halloween has emerged as the biggest holiday for party store sales, followed by graduation, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.
Though it might seem a little early for Halloween, Pogue said he’s already had people stop by the store as his staff prepares for opening. Indeed, while my colleague Andy Alfaro and I were there the other day, a couple stopped by looking for steampunk attire for an upcoming wedding. (I wasn’t clear what steampunk was, but Local News Editor Jeff Farrow, who is far hipper than I, explained it as sort of Victorian era meets futuristic sci fi. I still don’t get it, but it sounds pretty cool.)
As for costumes, I asked Pogue what’s going to be hot this year. Superheroes are big, for both children and adults. For the ladies, corsets are trendy, paired with tutus for a rather sexy Batgirl or Wonder Woman. He also stocks serial killer masks that resemble actual notorious criminals. Cringe-worthy for some, but, Pogue said, “they’re popular.”
As for the G-rated stuff, Pogue said that the “Frozen” princesses continue to be enormously popular, a year after Disney released the movie. The “Despicable Me” characters also have holding power, but nothing like “Frozen.”
“We haven’t seen anything like this since the first ‘Spider-Man’ came out 10 years ago,” Pogue said, adding that costumes, party goods and everything else adorned with Queen Elsa or Princess Anna flies out the door.
For those who prefer to assemble their own costumes, Pogue has stocked a variety of accessories. Someone looking for a costume could spend anywhere from $5 to $200, the latter price the going rate for a full-on padded adult Captain America costume or an elaborate princess costume.
Given how much preparation has to be done in advance, I asked Pogue if he is sick of Halloween by the time it rolls around each year.
“I was sick of it four months ago,” he joked.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat
Fans of Indian food – and who isn’t? – have a new place to get it. The Indian Grocery Store and Chaat opened last week at 3600 Sisk Road, and owner Raj Bhalla said he is having a grand opening celebration through the weekend.
Chaat, I learned, is an Indian word for food often sold off trucks and carts. In addition to grocery items, produce, frozen items and even jewelry, the store will have a kitchen operating by sometime next month.
The Indian Grocery Store and Chaat is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Call (209) 545-2442.
• If you’re a student in kindergarten through eighth grade, McDonald’s wants to treat you to breakfast Tuesday.
Modesto, Turlock, Ceres and other Northern San Joaquin Valley sites are among the McDonald’s restaurants in Northern California and parts of Nevada to offer the breakfast, which consists of an Egg White Delight McMuffin, apple slices and 1 percent milk.
“Research continues to show the correlation between students starting their day with a nutritious breakfast and having a higher success rate in school,” registered dietitian-nutritionist Amy Myrdal said in a news release from the restaurants. “McDonald’s is continuously working to evolve their menu towards providing healthier options for adults and kids, and hopefully students will take the opportunity to start their school day on Sept. 9 – and every school day after that – with a healthy breakfast.”
The promotion is open to all students within the age group, but those under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult.