Where to Score the Coolest Halloween Gear this Year

Halloween Town in Burbank. All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat

It’s that time of the year again! Time to stock up on all things ghastly and ghoulish. It doesn’t matter how many orange plastic tubs of decorations are already in the garage, true Halloween fans are always on tenterhooks waiting to check out the latest goodies. And if you are throwing a Halloween party, it’s a whole ‘nother level. Let us give you the lowdown on all of your local stores.

This year I’m noticing more old-fashioned Haunted Mansion-style decor, and the nostalgia is not only from the familiar Victorian era, but there are some animated props harkening back to the 40s as well. There are a lot more animated props in general, which have become more sophisticated, yet the prices are still reasonable. The other big thing this year is lights lights lights. Projections of flying ghosts, spiderwebs, and surreal “fire and ice” style light shows are available, as well as all manner of blinking, flashing, swirling lights. Tall inflatables are also trending, with 12-foot tall ghosts and clowns ready to hover over your house. Now, where to find these goodies…

99-cents ONLY STORES

The 99-cent store is not the place to go when you need something specific. It is like a big grab bag, with all kinds of surprises and weird shit. And it’s only a dollar — what have you got to lose?

Decorations – Lots of banners, yard stakes and smaller decorations. Primarily hanging ghouls and body parts. Score: chains with eyeballs.

Party Supplies – No theme paper goods, but lots of undecorated orange paper plates, etc. Lots of cute little Halloween  party favor boxes.

Costumes – Very little. Primarily masks and headwear.


Decorations – This year Big Lots has some great Halloween decorations. Similar to Target’s “Nocturne Collection,” “The Midnight Manor Collection” has old fashioned animated props like a disembodied hand that pulls a chain to turn on a lamp, and a film projector that shows a moving image of a skeleton dancing (but annoyingly plays The Entertainer over and over). There is also an old fashioned phone that talks when you lift the receiver, and a skull hiding in a book.

“The Graveyard Gang Collection” has skeletons of a variety of animals. The cats and dogs make me sad but the giant dragon skeleton is pretty cool. There are also electrical boxes and fluorescent lights that crackle and spark, appearing to short circuit. Big Lots is a good place to fulfill your lighting needs because they are at least double the price everywhere else. There are also inflatables and and a spooky tree that I covet.

Party Supplies – A lot of tablecloths and serving ware.

Costumes – Not much.


There have been a lot of changes at Cinema Secrets since last Halloween. They have expanded into the space next door, which they call “The Crypt.” The new space holds all of the costumes and accessories now.

Decorations – The newly emptied space has been filled with lots of interesting statuettes and tchotches, big ghoul figures, and your usual Halloween decor. They do have original inflatables that I have not seen anywhere else, including a super-creepy baby.

Party Supplies – No siree.

Costumes – This is the place to find authentic movie makeup, fake facial hair, prosthetics and appliances like fake noses, scars and horns. I once used their products to make it look like shards of glass were protruding from my face and it actually shocked and disturbed people on the street. They also have hair dyes and wigs year-round.

If you want to do special effects on yourself, they will help you pick out the items and give you a lesson on how to apply and remove them. Like many beauticians do, they will make you feel special. If you want to go over-the-top they will totally make you over. You just need a picture of how you want to look and an appointment. Appointments on Halloween weekend are going to fill up fast, so get on it.  Email appointments@cinemasecrets.com. What is their most common costume request this year? Pennywise the clown. You have been warned.


Decorations – Cost Plus has always had lots of homespun decor. This year there are plenty of skulls and skeletons, plus an entire Day of the Dead section. Score: A “bearskin rug” made out of a werewolf. A “wer-skin rug.”

Party Supplies – So many cool serving pieces this year! Also lots of paper goods and interesting cards.

Costumes – negatory


This is a company that rents out empty retail locations for the holiday. This location is hard to find as it is in the underground parking lot of another shopping center, conveniently beneath Michael’s, Ross and Cost Plus. Very attentive but non-pushy salespeople.

Decorations – Everything from tiny little spiders to giant inflatables in great abundance.

Party Supplies – Not really their thing

Costumes – If you are looking for absolutely anything, they have it.  There are rows upon rows of both costumes and accessories. Weapons, wigs, hats, jewelry, artificial teeth, and even prosthetics like scars and noses. Seriously, everything. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you had better have plenty of time to browse.


Halloween Town is a year-round Halloween store, although they practically double their inventory in October. There are now three separate buildings – Props & Decor, Costumes, and Halloween Town Kids. They have their own parking lot and salespeople are helpful and knowledgeable.

Magnolia Park, the neighborhood around Halloween Town is rich with other costume shops. It’s a Wrap! sells used film and television outfits and has a dazzling array of luxe period costumes, which are a bit expensive and tend to be a size 0-8. There is also Junk for Joy, Playclothes Vintage, Swift Vintage, Unique Vintage, and Pinups, which has all kinds of plus size dresses and will tailor for you. Dark Delicacies doesn’t sell costumes, but has fun spooky stuff.

Decorations – An entire building full. Lots of cool retro decorations, upscale items, and even a set of decorative china. They have so many life-size monsters I was actually afraid to get too close to the display in case they had an employee planted in there to grab people. Not that they have ever done that, it’s just the kind of thing I am on guard for this time of year,

Party Supplies – Serving dishes, the china I mentioned, and some party favors, but nothing in the way of paper goods.

Costumes – An entire building of kid’s costumes and an entire building filled with costumes for grown-ups. Their inventory is mostly prepackaged costumes, but they have a lot of high-end period costumes and things like quality top hats. They also have a nice selection of plus size costumes, which can be hard to find anywhere other than the internet.


This has always been a go-to place for people wanting to dress up outside of the Halloween season. It’s on a seedy part of Hollywood Blvd. so hold your purse close and try not to inhale the scent of crepes and piss wafting along the Walk of Fame.

Decorations – There is a lot of the standard stuff and some 3/4 size monsters, which aren’t as scary. But I did want one of them that seemed to swoop down on you from the ceiling.

Party Supplies – Not here. look elsewhere. Like Target.

Costumes – This is where this store really shines. They have everything imaginable from  chain mail to winged monkey costumes. They have a huge inventory of wigs and even have a wig stylist in house for custom jobs, in case you want to dress up as Tracy Turnblad or The B-52s this year. If you would like a more one-on-one boutique experience and a wig you might wear more than once, Outfitters Wig is just a few doors down and also has toupees.


Decorations – Not really about the cheaper plastic decorations, they tend to have nicer tchotchkes for $10 to $20. Looking for a gigantic ceramic pair of witch’s boots? No problem. A big wicker owl? Yes. They also tend to have a lot more crafty, homespun decorations like pillows and seasonal pumpkins rather than the scary stuff.

Party Supplies – limited to novelty napkins and paper plates

Costumes – Some for babies, kids and pets


Michael’s Craft Store usually has a lot of items for baking, candy making and homemade costumes, but this year they have an insane amount of cool stuff and it’s all 60% off! Get off the damn computer and run your ass down there right now. Why are you still reading this? Go!

Decorations: Everything you could ever want. Skeletons with real character, spiderweb-covered pillows, front yard signage, “Spookytown” miniatures and more! Score – Big scary vulture.

Party Supplies – Some serving items and big glass jars with spouts for mixing up punches.

Costumes – Only for pets, but some cool ones, and they are 60 percent off too!


Decorations – So much! From family-friendly to downright scary. Some large-sized outdoor decorations and animatronic monsters too.

Party Supplies – All kinds of themed plates and paper goods, serving dishes and trays, plus pinatas and lots of little party favors

Costumes – A full supply, plus wigs and accessories for kids, pets, and adults


Decorations – This is where to get all the big crazy shit that jumps out at you. Animated talking trees, nuclear accidents, creepy-ass children and a million more jump scares. They stock big jugs of latex, fake blood and fog juice. They also have every other thing you can even imagine.

Party Supplies – A few. Score – Ouija board serving platter.

Costumes – Only a million. Big this year: Stranger Things, scary clowns (Including Twisty from AHS), broken dolls, and yes, even David S. Pumpkins. Any questions?


STATS in Pasadena closed for most of 2016, so I was excited to hear that they are open again and in business. Although they are primarily a Christmas store, they always went crazy for Halloween, with an entire room devoted exclusively to those little miniature Halloween Town dioramas. I was disappointed to see that the entire store is smaller, and they have downsized Halloween to one half-empty room.

Decorations – There are two levels of decor. There are some very stylish and crafted goblets, figures, and even thrones. The 2-foot dragon head is $175 to give you a general idea. I like the salt and pepper shakers that look like a man’s eyes bugging out. They also have a bunch of run-of-the-mill stuff at 50% off. The 3/4 size figures were already overpriced at $150, but that creepy butler just might be worth $75 to the right person.

Party Supplies – Nope.

Costumes – Some holiday aprons and a few masks.


Target, always the last store out of the starting gate for Halloween madness makes up for it in versatility and excess.

Decorations – The indoor decor has “collections” like any fine designer would. Our favorite this year is “Nocturne” with elegant and old fashioned decorations in purple, black and metallics. I especially love the small one-handed animated piano, and skeletal hands salad servers, Ouija Board serving tray, and the biggest score – an animated haunted TV that you will just have to see for yourself. The “Mad Lab” collection is kind of cartoony in a Nightmare Before Christmas kind of way, “Stories in the Dark” is made up of more traditional kid’s Halloween stuff in black and orange, with a throwback to around the 60s. “Skeletons and Tombstones” consists of mostly outdoor decorations, with the glowing Halloween Sonic Spirit and Try Me Grave Breaker being standouts.

Party Supplies – Lots. Every kind of serving dish, plates, cups, tablecloths, baking supplies, party favors, and Oh my God, SO MUCH CANDY.

Costumes – Mostly children’s costumes and a small assortment of pet costumes. This year there are a lot of food costumes (hot dogs are always so popular), Universal monsters and circus costumes.


Decorations – Again, upscale-ish tchotchkes, including a cool serving platter with a metal witch’s hand curling out of it. Score: Ornate clock with skulls.

Party Supplies – Not much, a few cute cupcake wrappers and decorated piks.

Costumes – Lots and lots of kids costumes. Halloween themed hats and toys for pets.


Decorations – From the very small to the very tall. Scary life-size pirates and clowns, and 12′ inflatables. Lots of lights and outdoor decorations. Score: Moving eyeball yard stake lights. Maybe it was Rick Griffin, maybe it was The Residents, but eyeballs are forever cool.

Costumes – A medium-sized assortment, with lots and lots of wigs. They have giant mascot heads for only $20, but honestly, how long can you really stand to wear one of those? You could be more comfortable…or very uncomfortable in the politically incorrect “hombre” costume. Cactus for napping up against sold separately.

Party Supplies – Not their main thing. Just some novelty napkins (“I like big bolts and I cannot lie”) and some nice centerpieces.


Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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