It’s almost here! Halloween, that blessed time when we wave bye-bye to long days full of wretched sunlight and embrace the coming darkness of autumn and fall. Already tombstones and jack-o'-lanterns are showing up in the stores. The pagan revelries are nigh. (Ed. Note: Please go outside more often. You’re getting weird. Er.)
On the surface, shopping for Halloween is simple, right? You head down to one of the Spirit stores or a big-box store and you’re done. Sure, you could do that if you’re one of those fair-weather Weeners with no pride in your faith. Houston has some great places to pick up spooky and macabre stuff. Let’s explore.
10. Danny’s Trix and Kix - 3400 FM 2920
The best place for your costume needs up on the north side is Danny’s Trix and Kix. The store has an extremely impressive inventory, and unlike some of its better-known, centrally located cousins is actually open on Sundays for shopping during October. It’s definitely worth the trip out to Spring if you’re having trouble finding something closer to the heart of the city.
9. Buchanan’s Native Plants - 611 East 11th
Buchanan’s is home to a surprisingly wide and awesome selection of high-quality Halloween yard decorations every year. It’s generally whimsical rather than frightening, so those with an eye toward the classy and G-rated will find some good stuff. Buchanan's also sometimes sells really cute Halloween-themed jewelry.
8. Magick Cauldron - 2424 Montrose
Why dress as a witch or wizard when you can be one? You can get some wonderful cloaks and apparel at the store as well as spooky drinkware, but the real deal is in magical supplies and literature. Delve into the mystical and learn how to set up your own magical altar, or just pick out a good book on the occult.
7. Party Boy - 1515 Studemont
Wandering the upstairs costume shop area of Party Boy is always magical. Everything is out and touchable, and it feels like some hidden Hollywood storage area. Plus, Party Boy hosts Nightmare on the Bayou in the far end of the building, regularly a first-rate haunted house. This place takes Halloween very seriously.
6. Arne’s - 2830 Hicks
Truth be told, I’ve lost a lot of my affection for Arne’s over the years. Its Halloween section, though, still wows consistently. Once the store brings out all the stock, the entire first floor often becomes a pseudo-haunted house full of impressive and usually very lifelike decorations, all for sale. I don’t currently have room for the best animatronic zombie in town, but it’s nice to know where I can buy one when I do.
5. National Museum of Funeral History - 415 Barren Springs Drive
Of course, the main perk of going to the National Museum of Funeral History is to learn about the culture of death ceremonies, but the museum also has a macabre gift shop to go with it that is perfect for Halloween. Hearse coasters, tombstone sippy-cups and casket business card holders are just some of the out-there wares on sale. Also for sale are spooky Christmas ornaments, so there's at least one Christmas product available this early there's no point in complaining about.
4. Southern Importers – 4825 San Jacinto
This was always my go-to costume shop of choice back in the Rocky Horror days. The wig selection is pretty varied and good quality for the low-price end of the spectrum. It’s also the place I recommend if you’re interested in make-up effects, as the stock is very complete and accessible. Most of the rest of the store is standard party store stuff, but around Halloween, Southern Importers does sell some quality decorations.
3. The Place Upstairs - 3708 Main
Open only at odd evening hours above The Continental Club, The Place Upstairs is like being inside Rob Zombie’s dreams. Creepy clown paintings, masks, freaky dolls and medical supplies are all available for the brave to purchase. You can actually take a virtual tour here, but don’t say I didn’t warn you that it was unnerving as heck.
2. Wilde Collection - 1446 Yale
Now if you want to get really serious about being sinister, you have got to make your way down to Wilde Collection. It’s an honest-to-God oddity shop full of taxidermy creatures, creepy statues and more. Want to have two scorpions posed in mid-fight in a tasteful glass case? Wilde has it. Want a flying monkey? Wilde can do that. When you absolutely, positively need to creep out every other person in the room, accept no substitutes.
1. Frankel’s Costume - 2801 Polk
For more than 60 years, Frankel’s has been pretty much the essential costume shop in Houston for good reason. The quality of its costumes, especially the fancier ones, is so high that my prom date actually got her dress from Frankel’s. If you want an old-school, professional costume buying experience, then Frankel’s is it. The store also has an excellent selection of illusionist supplies if you’re into that sort of thing. Really, no other costume shop has the pedigree that Frankel’s does, which is why it's the best Halloween costume destination in the city.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.