While it may seem frightfully early, the first Halloween store of the season, Halloween Express, opened Thursday at 613 N. Westhill Blvd. in Grand Chute.
Halloween Express actually opens at this point in August every year, in the same spot near Home Depot, to tap into early business. Campgrounds have Halloween parties before school starts.
The store’s owner, Todd Cloutier of Combined Locks, said people were waiting outside his door when he opened Thursday morning.
“There was a car waiting outside with six college students in it,” he said. “They didn’t buy anything but wanted to get some ideas for a party in two weeks.”
The first costume purchased Thursday was Captain America. Cloutier was not surprised because he expects classic costumes — superheroes, witches, zombies and vampires — to be top sellers.
“I’m expecting a lot of zombies this year,” he said. “They have quite a following.”
The surprise with Captain America was that it was a girl purchasing it for herself.
Later in the day, a woman on her way to a Renaissance fair stopped to pick up a costume because her mail-order corset hadn’t arrived in time.
Cloutier separated G-rated kids’ costumes from severed limbs and gory displays so parents with small children can get in and out.
“It’s still a Halloween store, so you have to have both, but we’re making it more family friendly this way,” he said.
Last year, Halloween Express’ two big competitors — Spirit Halloween and Halloween City — set up temporary stores in Grand Chute. A check of Spirit Halloween’s website this showed it has not yet listed any sites closer than Ashwaubenon. Halloween City, meanwhile, had not updated its website with any 2013 locations.
— Maureen Wallenfang: 920-993-1000, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @wallenfang