Halloween is a holiday people of all ages embrace and enjoy. Whether it’s tasty treats, spooky masks and costumes or fun decorations, many will take part in this year’s festivities. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects consumers will spend more than $9 billion on Halloween-themed good this year. Better Business Bureau ® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers up some simple tricks to consumers in the hopes of helping ensure their Halloween is a treat.
“It’s a really fun time of year and people can participate to the degree they wish to,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Our goal is to remind people to keep their personal safety top of mind, make wise purchasing decisions and have fun.”
To avoid the specter of a dreary Halloween, BBB suggests the following:
Stick with the experts. Though not extremely common, some costume shops are open year-round. For more elaborate costumes or simply for peace of mind, you may want to consider renting your costume from a shop with a permanent address. It’s always a good idea to research BBB Business Profiles at bbb.org. You can also read customer reviews offered by BBB and other sites to learn more about costume shops in your area.
Get the facts. Many seasonal stores are run by reputable retailers who take advantage of short-term leases on vacant space to set up temporary stores. However, other shops may be “here today and gone tomorrow.” Be sure you know where to find retailers you deal with after the clock strikes midnight on October 31 by requesting both an address and a phone number.
Renting vs. Buying. Do you tend to pick the same costume every year? Most people like to mix it up, but if you do have a ‘go to’ costume, it might make more sense to buy rather than rent.
Read the fine print. Seasonal stores have the same responsibilities as a year-round operation. Make sure to note the store’s refund and return policies; familiarize yourself with all of the terms and conditions – they have to be made available. Keep in mind that some stores may not accept returns or even offer exchanges on Halloween costumes you’ve purchased – even if it’s still in its original packaging.
Know what to expect before renting a costume. Many rental costumes tend to be sturdier than Halloween costumes you can buy, but make sure you understand your responsibilities. What happens if the costume rips, or you get a stain on it or lose it altogether? Do you have to pay a penalty in addition to the price of the costume? Be sure everything is spelled out clearly in the rental agreement.
If you’re renting, return your costume on time. Most stores rent costumes on a daily/nightly basis, meaning you pick up your costume the day of your event and return it the following day. Failure to do so may mean you’ll be charged with additional fees.
Think outside the box. Secondhand stores often have the materials necessary to create your own costume – and at reduced prices. Even so, it’s still important to research track records of different thrift stores with BBB.
When purchasing costumes online, do it securely. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https.” You also may see a small picture of a closed lock in the lower right corner of the screen.
For more helpful consumer tips, visit bbb.org.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.