Costume store Spirit Halloween is a harbinger of the demise of the American mall : It's Been a Minute Every fall, with the same regularity as birds flying south, Spirit Halloween materializes in locations across the country. The superstore sells all manner of trappings for spooky season, including costumes, props and décor. It boasts about 1,400 pop-ups nationwide, and often takes over temporary leases in malls where a big-box retailer struggled to stay open. This penchant for swooping in on failing businesses has led many consumers to see the company as a kind of Grim Reaper of retail – and turned the store into an internet meme.

This week, host Brittany Luse sits down with Planet Money's Kenny Malone to dive into the origin story of Spirit Halloween, and what the store's success says about the economy and the future of retail.

You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin or email us at ibam@npr.org.

The Grim Reaper of retail: Spirit Halloween

The Grim Reaper of retail: Spirit Halloween

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Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images; John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Photo Illustration by. Kaz Fantone
Spirit Halloween
Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images; John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Photo Illustration by. Kaz Fantone

Every fall, with the same regularity as birds flying south, Spirit Halloween materializes in locations across the country. The superstore sells all manner of trappings for spooky season, including costumes, props and décor. It boasts about 1,400 pop-ups nationwide, and often takes over temporary leases in malls where a big-box retailer struggled to stay open. This penchant for swooping in on failing businesses has led many consumers to see the company as a kind of Grim Reaper of retail – and turned the store into an internet meme. This week, host Brittany Luse sits down with Planet Money's Kenny Malone to dive into the origin story of Spirit Halloween, and what the store's success says about the economy and the future of retail.

This episode of 'It's Been a Minute' was produced by Jamila Huxtable, Andrea Gutierrez, Liam McBain, and Jessica Mendoza. It was edited by Jessica Placzek. Engineering support came from Carleigh Strange. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at ibam@npr.org.

Correction Oct. 26, 2022

A previous version of the audio incorrectly included a line that mentioned that people are moving away from the suburbs. This line has been edited out because the population growth of the suburbs has been in decline, but it has not shrunk.