“You need strong nerves to cope with Halloween,” is the view of Graham Fraser, owner of Alba in Oban after a successful, though nail-biting ride for the pre-Christmas event.
“Halloween is a useful season indeed as it fills the gap nicely between summer tourists and Christmas preparations,” says Graham, who believes there is more potential out there for indies as long as they receive the support from suppliers, including card publishers.
“At the end of the day the future of Halloween in independents lies a lot with our suppliers,” sums up Graham. “We can sell Halloween products but only if the suppliers are not bedazzled by £pound signs and don’t allow their margins to be decimated by supermarkets and large online retailers which shrink their customer base in the long term,” he adds.
Graham put out his Halloween instore display in early September with the event also featuring in its window which encouraged a “flurry” of interest from customers, that was only stalled when supermarkets put their stocks of “cheap stuff” on show.
Face paints was one of the saviour products for Alba. “Supermarkets don’t get them and online retailers can’t cope with the customer’s desire to purchase at the very last minute, i.e. 4pm on 31st October! But we need strong nerves to cope with that!” explains Graham, who said it all came good when its reputation as a face painting stockiest came good.
As part of its commitment to the event, Alba has stocked Halloween cards for many years. “Halloween cards are still in their infancy but we brought in a new range this year from Stripey Cats just to encourage and refresh the choice,” says Graham.
Graham pays tribute to Gisela Graham and Talking Tables for their support of indies around Halloween. “They give us independents an edge over our low tax paying, low rate paying and dubious financial accounting competitors. Our suppliers’ Halloween ranges have quality in design, innovation and ultimately represent value for money and we can use that to surpass the competition,” states Graham. “Thousands of independent retailers are the window on the world for suppliers to showcase all their new products. Love us or lose us!!” he implores.
Top: Alba works hard at Halloween.