The creaky floorboards. The flickering television playing old monster movies. The alluring stench of rubber latex and fake fur. Uncle T in the corner, melting a crucifix and medallion into molten silver and pouring it into a bullet mold. This could only mean one thing.

You’ve stepped inside

Welcome babes and boogeymen of all shapes, sizes and sexual orientations. We can’t wait to show you what adorns these dusty, wood-paneled walls!

It’s funny how certain memories from childhood become so hazy over time and harder to remember details, while other memories — like first encounters, are so vivid. Take for instance my first experience at a Halloween costume shop. I remember it like it was yesterday.

This would have been around 1989 or 1990 at a crusty mom ‘n pop place in the city. After seeing an ad in our local newspaper during the month of October for place to buy/rent costumes called ‘Morris Novelty’, I begged my parents to take me. My imagination ran wild that a place could even exist that was dedicated to costumes, gags, masks and make-believe. Mind you, I wasn’t a horror fan at this point…but I was more than intrigued.

We drove to the location and what I pictured in my mind was not what stood before us — an abandoned looking building with not a single car in the lot. But venturing this far out in the Volvo station wagon, we weren’t turning away without checking it out.

Sure enough this unassuming place was indeed a business. The first floor looked like a dilapidated department store. Some clown costumes and ballerina stuff. Costumes that were obviously geared more towards theater people. The place smelled like a wet carpet and old fried food. A bit of a letdown, until we saw a wooden staircase with a sign pointing up that said MASKS.

My parents led the way as we proceeded upstairs and began to hear one of those Halloween sound effects tapes playing. This second floor was darker but not intentionally dark. Minimal lighting like your grandmother’s attic or your sketchy uncle’s “devil’s den”. Strange smells too. Then I glanced upwards to feast my eyes on a vision that hit me like a ton of bricks. A mountain of masks towering over us on some wood paneling and corkboard walls. An intimidating sight to behold.

Ghouls, demons, weirdos, beasts, old creeps, Hannibal Lector’s “muzzle” mask and things that my horror-virgin self couldn’t wrap my head around. I didn’t run out of there screaming or anything, but all I could do was stare in awe/shock.

Shelves upon shelves of hideous freaks with fangs and rotting flesh looking down at you like they want lunch. Again, I hadn’t dipped my toe in horror movies at this point, so even movie references were way over my head. My only exposure was quickly shuffling through the horror section of the video store, looking at the artwork and thinking that anyone who watches this stuff must be completely mental.

It’s one of the earliest memories I have of getting a true feeling from all of this. It’s that same fascination yet intimidation as when your friend’s older brother plays you Pantera and Iron Maiden for the first time after you’ve been listening to nothing but Green Day.

That’s why our theme this year is dedicated to all the Halloween costume shops of the world. Weather it be Frank’s Freaky Novelties, a drug store in the middle of nowhere or Spirit Halloween, we salute them all. There’s no feeling quite like walking into one of these stores and getting your monster fix.

A monstrous-sized FUCK YEAH to my pal Cody Kaufman who came up with the incredible artwork for this year’s theme. I can’t stop staring at it! [click here to enlarge]

We have a slew of goodies coming this way for the spooky season. Next week we’ll premiere our promotional video for TNUC’s Nightmare Gift Shop, so keep your eyes on this site.

If you have memories of old Halloween costume shops, please share in the comments section!

Sincere thanks to Josh (IG: @vintagedonpoststudios) for the photos!


  1. Thanks for sharing this rad story. I myself have frequented a similar bodacious Halloween/creepy mask store in Omaha, NE called Mangelsen’s ( I kid you not, that is the real name). While most of the store functioned like a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, they had one crusty corner that was dedicated to all kinds of crazy detailed (and expensive to a young kid) masks as well as other Halloween goodies. As a young lad who hadn’t gotten into or quite understood the horror genre yet, I still was mesmerized by all the scary-spooky masks and atmosphere created in this niche of the store, which was often complemented by a TV playing a VHS of either a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm St. movie. They even had a life-size replica of the Xenomorph from Alien, which I attribute to kick starting my obsession with the franchise. Mangelsen’s is still open, but it’s been a few years since I have visited creepy mask corner. I hope it’s still there, and if anything this great article is a good kick in the pants for me to pay a visit during spooky season to not only see if it’s still there (hopefully) but also revel in it’s creepy awesomeness.

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