Halloween Express

The former MC Sports store building at Verona Road and the Beltline is home for a temporary Halloween Express store.

Halloween is big business, and retailers in the Madison area are cashing in.

They can include major retailers like Menard's, Shopko, Target and Walmart, where Halloween displays are now competing for shelf space with Christmas decorations.

There are pumpkin farms, corn mazes and other fall agricultural businesses along with haunted houses that spend thousands of dollars in an attempt to recoup their costs and make a profit in the relatively short-lived season. 

Even Old World Wisconsin, the state historic site near Eagle, gets into the game at this time of the year. Over two weekends, Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28, the site will offer "Halloween Legends and Lore," which will include mazes, tales of the Ridgeway Ghost and food.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 179 million Americans plan to partake in Halloween festivities, up from 171 million last year with spending expected to hit $9.1 billion, up from $8.4 billion in 2016.

Costumes will make up the largest share of spending, coming in at roughly $3.4 billion, with candy sales and decorations each accounting for about $2.7 billion.

In Madison, thrift stores like St. Vincent DePaul, Goodwill and Bethesda are always popular spots, as are other secondhand clothing stores like Ragstock, Lazy Jane's Junk and Boomerangs Resale Store.

But this is also the time of the year for the popup store, and Halloween Express has become a fall staple for many.  The company, founded in 1990 in Kentucky, has more than 200 stores in 80 markets around the country.

In Madison, Halloween Express has stores at 4802 East Washington Ave. and in the former MC Sports store at 4546 Verona Road, near the Goodwill Store.

Wisconsin is home to 18 Halloween Express stores including a store in the Shopko Center at 2600 Humes Road, Janesville.

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Send retail-related tips and story ideas to badams@madison.com or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.