Ghost time

Jackie Caruso, owner of Halloween Annex, talks about future plans for her store.

Jackie Caruso, owner of Halloween Annex Superstore at 196 Loudon Road has been working in the party store industry for 27 years. Both she and her husband own J&J Party and Janitorial Supplies L.L.C. in Amherst. This is the first year Caruso has set up a Halloween store on Loudon Road but she and her husband have been running a Halloween store for about fifteen years.
It can be difficult to set up a store with so many products when space is limited. “Our other party store is 20,000 square feet while this one is only 5,000 square feet,” Caruso explained.
Costume seekers actually have two Concord retailers specializing in Halloween wear. Spirit Halloween, two minutes down the road at 270 Loudon Road, and one of 638 locations nationwide, offers its own selection of costumes, masks, makeup and decorations.
IMG_4907Spirit Halloween clerks report that working in the themed store is a lot of fun. “The best part is watching little kids get excited and getting to see their reactions to the animatronics” (lifelike robots), said one clerk, who identified herself as a local college student named Amanda.
Recent customers include a mother whose son attends Merrimack Valley High School. She plans on throwing an adult Halloween party “and this year probably a kid’s party too.” She spent some time in the mask section, smiling with her son, who says last year’s trick-or-treating would be his last. “I love this store!”she said.
As at Spirit Halloween, the walls of Halloween Annex Superstore are lined with creepy masks of clowns and demons. The back room is filled with severed limbs and heads, making anyone who enters squeamish.
Sarah Marcoux, a newly hired employee, says the job is “pretty awesome.” This Halloween, Marcoux plans on taking her seven-year-old daughter trick-or-treating. “She’s going as Queen Amidala” (Star Wars), Marcoux said with a laugh.
IMG_4915Caruso said her store gets crowded as Halloween approaches. “Many people are making last minute decisions. People get invited to a party last minute and have to pick up a costume.”
Concord’s will hold its annual Halloween Howl Friday, Oct. 30, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Downtown streets will be closed so that children can trick-or-treat at stores. According to a posting on Intown Concord’s website, the free event will also include a dance party, costume parade, music, crafting and an open mic event for local performers who can sign up on the spot. The YMCA is offering a haunted bus at the intersection of Warren and North State streets. The bus will be scary and so it is not recommended for children under six.
When asked where she’ll be on Halloween, Caruso answered enthusiastically, “I will be here! It’s the biggest day of the season!” CHS students can check out either store for demonic mask or pints of fake blood to finish off those zombie costumes.