Ah, Halloween. Every year, more than 41 million youngsters (and some not-so-youngsters) take to the streets to extract free candy from their enabling neighbors, who ask only that these adorable little people dress up like fairies, vampires, or timely favorites like Wonder Woman or Pennywise, the terrifying antagonist from Stephen King's "It."
Turns out, Halloween isn't just a bounteous occasion for kids in masks; it's also a major windfall for American businesses. U.S. consumers are expected to shell out a cool $9.1 billion on Halloween-related expenditures this year, an 8% increase over last year. Those most likely to benefit are discount stores, specialty retailers, and grocers.
But what about the businesses whose relevance is really tied up in being scary? We scoured the Internet to find some of the spookiest small businesses in America. Our search led us to three main categories: haunted shops, haunted hotels, and of course, seasonal haunted attractions.
1. The 5 scariest small business locations in the U.S. (Insureon)
Insureon has a great blog post about the creepiest local businesses in the land. You should read the whole article, but here a few highlights:
- At Faded Banner Publications, a niche publisher in Ohio, the ghosts hate classic rock enough to turn off the radio — or just shut off the power.
- Nobody, including the 250 in attendance, is quite sure what to make of a crazy spectacle with blowing, hovering curtains that occurred at the Pixy Theatre in Indiana.
- Ghost sightings. The sound of footsteps. Slamming doors. Things got so weird at Onyx Moonshine in Connecticut that they called in professional paranormal investigators who made some unsettling audio recordings.
2. Top 10 haunted hotels in America (Travel Channel)
There's just something about hotels. Maybe it's the fact that so many people come and go. Maybe it's the dimly-lit hallways. Or, maybe it's just being away from the comforts of home. In any case, hotels and ghost stories go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
Travel Channel collected a list of 10 truly terrifying independent hotels across the country. Read about all of them on their cool slideshow. A few standouts:
- The Stanley Hotel in Colorado left such a spooky impression on Stephen King that it inspired the honcho of horror to write his classic tale of spooks, solitude, and lots and lots of snow, "The Shining."
- If you stay at the Logan Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania, ask for Room 6. You might just have a run-in with Emily, the sobbing, lavender-wearing spectre said to inhabit the room.
- Want to stay at one of the most haunted houses in America? The Myrtles Plantation is right up your alley. It's rumored that 12 ghosts haunt the property, including a deceased slave named Chloe.
3. The 7 craziest, scariest, most extreme haunted attractions in America
Yay for haunted attractions, where all your worst nightmares come true! The folks at E News pulled together a list of the 7 freakiest seasonal scare-joints in the country. Warning: this stuff is not for the faint of heart. Here are a few of the biggest doozies:
- The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio, is built on a petrifying backstory that mirrors the Freddy Kruger character from the popular '80s slasher movie series, "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
- According to Yelp reviewers, there's a sign at Dead Acres in Pataskala, Ohio, that warns of "risk of physical and emotional injury." Wow...
- Do not go to McKamey Manor in San Diego unless you're ready for things to get real. You'll have to sign a waiver, be prepared to be duct-taped and spattered with fake blood, and potentially scream a safe word to end the horror early.
If that doesn't get you in the Halloween spirit, take a look at our list of the biggest worries keeping small business owners up at night. Spoiler alert: there are no witches, goblins, or grotesque zombies on the list! (But they're likely to knock on your door this evening and insist on a sweet, sweet handout.)