By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Clowns have taken on a new meaning for Halloween this year.
Among the earliest mentions of people dressing as creepy clowns dates to this summer, when a clown reportedly tried to lure children into some woods in South Carolina.
A few arrests have been made for people dressing up as creepy clowns, but other than scaring people, the clown incidents don’t seem to have a motive. Despite the creepy clown craze, the clown costume is expected to be one of the biggest sellers for Halloween.
Michael Piaskowski, assistant manager at the Halloween Store in The Orchards Mall, said clowns have made a big comeback this year.
“Clowns have been a huge sale, especially with what’s been going on in the news,” Piaskowski said. “It’s not stopping too many people. Our clown props are the most popular they’ve ever been. Everyone’s going clown crazy.”
Piaskowski said he doesn’t see a lot of children dressing up as clowns, but it’s done more by their parents.
Any of the creepy clown masks with teeth and shrouded eyes are the top sellers at the Halloween Store. Piaskowski said he’s had to order more shipments of clown masks because they can’t keep enough in stock.
Zombies are still popular, with “The Walking Dead” starting its newest television season. That includes masks and aesthetics.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have their own costume set up near the front entrance of the Benton Township store.
Piaskowski has noticed a lot of people continue to buy the Jason Voorhees costume, made famous by the “Friday the 13th” film series. However, not too many are interested in Freddy Kruger or the Ghostface outfit from the “Scream” movie series.
Some of the bigger movies that have more detail are more expensive, but the average cost for a full costume is about $49. The less popular a movie is, the cheaper a costume will be.
“All the licensed material, the stuff attached to a movie, are a little bit more expensive,” Piaskowski said. “We have to pay extra because it’s copyrighted and drives the prices up. We pay a premium for the licensed costumes.”
A younger difference
More children this year than ever before will celebrate Halloween dressed as their favorite superhero.
According to NRF’s 2016 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey, princess costumes fell to the No. 2 spot after an 11-year reign.
Spending on Halloween costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion, with 67 percent of Halloween participants planning to buy costumes again this year, the NRF reported.
The study revealed more than 3 million children will dress as their favorite superhero, 2.9 million will dress as their favorite princess and 2.5 million plan to dress as a cat, dog or other animal.
“Yeah, most of the kids are doing superheroes and the girls are doing princesses,” Piaskowski said. “Superheroes has been a key seller because of the Marvel movies.”
Costumes at the Halloween Store that have been flying off the shelves among children were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Superman and the anti-hero Deadpool.
Deadpool has been a hard one to come by for kids, Piaskowski said, because the character is meant for adults.
“I thought it was kind of wired,” Piaskowski said. “We just don’t have the smaller size for those.”
The biggest shock to Piaskowski was how popular a different kind of clown has become among children.
Harley Quinn, a main character from this summer’s blockbuster hit “Suicide Squad,” is another Batman villain. However, the Joker’s girlfriend tends to wear more revealing outfits.
“Trying to get that costume in child size is hard. However, the women that are more age-appropriate for it are backing off it,” he said. “There’s been a lot of reports of women going as Harley Quinn, but because of that, I think they’re backing off. Early in the season, everyone was jumping on that, but once they saw everyone was going as (Harley Quinn), it slowed down a little bit.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 27, 2016)