As Halloween enthusiasts begin their “spooky season” countdown, those garden centers, nurseries, farms and other ag enterprises that like to decorate their operations will require a lot of artsy jack-o’-lanterns – or will hire teenagers to scare people during haunted hayrides, who will need frightening costumes ready for October.

In the weeks leading up to Oct. 31, there’s a very high probability one (or more) seasonal Halloween retailers will pop up in your region. These stores – the ones with the hastily tacked up banners, usually in black or orange – typically carry many of the items people desire, from makeup to costumes to decorations. It’s best to start your shopping now for your haunt or Halloween event, but if you stop by these stores, consider these tips to shop them successfully:

• Act fast – Pop-up Halloween stores typically aren’t open for business for very long. They may receive shipments of stock once or twice during their short life spans, but as items sell out they might not be replenished. It’s a good idea to grab what you want when you see it, as it might not be there in a few days.

• Check the return policy – The stores that carry Halloween costumes often have strict policies regarding returns. The goal is to prevent people from wearing the costumes for Halloween and then returning them for a refund. Make sure you know exactly which costumes you’re going to use or make return decisions promptly with the return policy in mind; otherwise, you may not be able to bring items back.

• Shop around – Like any other purchase decision, it’s best to be able to comparison shop to see if you’re getting a good deal with one of these pop-up vendors. Convenience may come with a premium. If you find the same costumes or props or makeup elsewhere, ask the store to price match.

• Think about your audience – While lots of people love Halloween, certain costumes or decorations may be much too graphic or frightening for young children. Your Halloween-themed décor should be planned in advance so you know what you’ll need to purchase for who. That’s why it’s best to start thinking about haunts in the heat of summer.

Seasonal stores capitalize on the spirit of Halloween by offering all the supplies necessary to have a hauntingly perfect Halloween. Make sure you take advantage of what they’re offering if you plan on operating a seasonal Halloween event as well.

by Courtney Llewellyn