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Popular over traditional what sells in Halloween costume game

Updated: 
October 24, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — Forget tradition, when it comes to Halloween costumes it’s the latest trend that sells.

Gone are the days of standard ghosts, ghouls and witches, the hottest hit in the movies or on TV — Netflix, more like it — is more likely to move when it comes to Oct. 31 attire.

Move it will, as Halloween spending across the country is slated to hit record $9.1 billion this year.

And it’s not the grandparents’ gear kids are buying.

“Not so much,” said Vanessa Copeland, key holder for the Spirit Halloween costume store that set up retail space for the monthlong blitz of sales in the old Sports Authority location in Kailua-Kona. “We don’t have very many ghost kinda outfits here, truthfully.”

Instead, a bulk of the get-ups are genre specific.

This year’s hot sellers are characters from “Stranger Things,” Netflix’s American science fiction-horror web television series that features super natural elements. Harley Quinn costumes are another big seller. The therapist and Joker sympathizer is from the Batman saga, but made all the more popular, if not risque, from Stranger Things.

Minions are popular, too. Those are animated yellow bouncy, strange action-adventure movie stars that kids seem to love.

“I think it’s just the fad thing,” said Mia Tokumura, manger at Kmart, who’s worked for seven years at the store and noticed the annual shift in costume trends early on.

This year, vampires are popular, but not old-school vampires like Dracula, more so the new age, hip, younger kind from the show, “Vampire Diaries.” Thor costumes are big, too, as the superhero movie is set to open in early November.

“It’s always different,” Tokumura said.

The $9.1 billion Americans are expected to spend this year, according to the National Retail Federation, would best last year’s record of $8.4 billion.

And shoppers plan to spend the most, or $3.4 billion, on costumes; $2.7 billion on candy; about $2.7 billion on decorations; and $410 million on Halloween-related greeting cards, NRF said.

New this year to the Halloween market are President Donald Trump costumes. Even Newsweek wrote about some of the best variations of it. The Oct. 11 article said a Make America Great Again hat was optional.

Sometimes, just choosing what to wear can be tough.

Logan Mallardi, 18, had a tough act to follow. He had a great costume last year, the Joker from “The Dark Knight” movie, and it was going to be hard to beat this year.

But he had about a $100-$200 budget and some ideas on how to do it.

“I really liked watching ‘Warcraft,’” he said of the action fantasy film, while he looked over the inventory at Spirit Halloween on Monday. “So I’m thinking that will be pretty cool to check out.”

Meanwhile, Teaumoana Spencer, 4, was grabbing all the masks and props he could at the store.

He started planning around a month ago, and wanted to be a ninja. Per family tradition, what costume he decides, the family sticks with the theme when they go out that night.

But he was starting to rethink his choice. With the family wardrobe at stake, it was a big decision.

“We went from being ninjas to now, we’re in the Army,” his mom, Leimana Spencer, said as her son strutted around the store with neither ninja nor army attire but a Darth Vader mask.

“He’s always asking, ‘When’s Halloween?’” she said. “He just likes to dress up.”

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