THE SONIC BOOMER
Halloween is over, and it makes me sad. I mean, I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and all, but Halloween has gotten increasingly lucrative for retailers, luring Black Friday (the day when we supposedly are finally “in the black” sales-wise) ever closer to September.
I have a couple of antiques stores, and here’s what looks good with antiques — Halloween stuff. Plus, I am always on the search for quirky items, and sometimes I don’t even put it on the sales floor until Halloween. Weird stuff really looks its best when tucked among beat-up crate boxes, overturned bushel baskets and that piece of camouflage draping I bought at Army-Navy Surplus 15 years ago.
Last Halloween, I searched all year for worn-out brooms, then hung them from the ceiling over the counter with a gold foil-wrapped golf ball, onto which I’d stapled little wings. It was a Golden Snitch, and the broomsticks were “playing” a game of Quidditch. The display sort of failed, though, when half the brooms sold out immediately to someone who wanted a Quidditch display of their own. Plus, at $5 each, I had priced them too low, but I never expected them to sell at all — those brooms were so messed-up.
This year, I learned my lesson and decided to decorate with something no one would want — a pile of fish skeletons pulled from a riverbank. I gave them ridiculously high prices, then dangled them over the counter with fish line, a creepy gar skull as the centerpiece.
The gar skull sold first. The rest of the skeletons weren’t far behind. By Oct. 15, customers were peering overhead at loose bits of fish line and wondering if invisible ghostly things were hanging there, just beyond their vision. Or not.
I still have the ghost ship, having found it just a few days before Oct. 31. The ghost ship is a 2-foot-tall wood and string structure that someone undoubtedly spent hours piecing together before it was carelessly tossed into the attic and left to disintegrate. Eventually, it was pulled from the attic, thrown into the back of a car and taken to an auction, where it lay on its side under a table until I recognized its true value and insisted on bidding on it. I was the high bidder at $3.25. (Actually, I was the only bidder.)
Cradling the broken ship model gently in my arms, I carried it out to my car and seat-belted it into the front passenger seat. I didn’t pile anything onto it or even near it, and hustled it safely home. At home, I propped it up on a bed of Spanish moss and lit it from the back with an orange LED bulb. My plan was to price the whole scene and get it onto the sales floor as soon as possible, but I just can’t part with it. The dusty sails, the broken mast, the little anchor hanging by a thread — it’s way too awesome.
Maybe next year.