The holiday season is fast approaching, inspiring some businesses to take a leap of faith by opening more "pop-up" stores than ever before.
That's what the retail industry calls temporary stores that pop up in malls or other outlets for a few months, meeting seasonal demand while taking advantage of lower overhead and payroll costs when it doesn't make business sense to operate year-round.
Spirit Halloween, for example, will open a total of 870 pop-up stores this year in the U.S. and Canada, 147 more than last year.
Arizona has 30 Spirit Halloween stores, including three in Tucson: 4690 N. Oracle Road, Suite 50; 5725 E. Broadway; and 3757 W. Ina Road, Suite 120.
The Halloween pop-ups usually stay in business for two months out of the year depending on the lease agreement, said Kelly David, a Spirit Halloween spokeswoman. They're generally open from Sept. 15 through Nov. 1.
"Halloween is generally looked at as just a kids' holiday, but it's really not," David said, explaining the growing demand.
Companywide, more than 12,000 employees are hired each Halloween season by Spirit, she said. "It's great that people have something like this to get a little bit of extra income," she said.
For some of the employees, that income could stretch into the winter months. Once "All Hallow's Eve" has passed, a hundred Spirit Halloween stores throughout the country will morph into temporary ToyZam! stores for the winter holidays, David said. Those stores will typically be in malls; no plans have been announced for a ToyZam! in the Tucson area this year.
Spirit Halloween and ToyZam! are both owned by Spencer's, a year-round gift and novelty business.
Another retailer that has jumped on the pop-up bandwagon is Toys "R" Us.
The company will open 600 temporary Express stores nationwide this year, doubling the number of available Toys "R" Us stores for holiday shoppers, said senior manager Jennifer Albano.
There are currently 13 Toys "R" Us Express stores open in Arizona, one of them in the Tucson Mall.
Toys "R" Us plans to hire approximately 45,000 seasonal employees nationwide, 35,000 of whom will staff the firm's traditional stores while 10,000 will staff its Express pop-up locations, Albano said.
"This number is greater than the total work force we hired during each of the last three holiday shopping seasons," she said.
"Establishing a presence in malls and other shopping centers allows us to take advantage of seasonal foot traffic in these locations," Albano said, "and cater to on-the-go parents, grandparents and last-minute shoppers looking to purchase everything on little ones' wish lists in one quick trip."
Toys "R"Us: apply online at www.rus careers.com
Spirit Halloween: Some Tucson locations are still hiring, and all are accepting applications. Apply at www.spirit halloween.com
Maggie Giuffrida is a University of Arizona journalism student who is a Star apprentice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org