It might be a scary thought to some, but one Langley resident has voluntarily worked a second job during this time of year for the past nine years to celebrate her favourite spooky holiday.
Spirit Halloween Langley has seen a steady stream of visitors walk-through its doors since opening its Willowbrook pop-up in August, a likely result of pent-up demand from activities having been curbed last year due to concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19.
If you’ve been a part of that group of costume-hunters who have stopped by the store the first to greet you might have been Vivian Gillard.
“Welcome to Spirit!”
Gillard’s full-time career requires her to work at a desk and she doesn’t get to interact with people as much as she would like, so for ‘fun’ she works as a seasonal employee at Spirit Halloween Langley.
“This is my moonlighting job,” she laughed. “I enjoy working with the public… to work with families, children, adults and finding them their fun costume for Halloween. The smiles that I see every year – and even children who say, ‘I remember you from last night’… it’s so much fun.”
In the week leading up to Halloween, Gillard even took a week vacation from her advertising career at Black Press Media to help her friend, store manger Lorette Dolmans.
“Everyone came early, we’ve been extremely busy,” Dolmans said. A popular costume choice she has noted among young girls this year has been characters from Disney movie Descendants, while boys have favoured outfits relating to online video game Fortnite.
Anime and Paw Patrol costumes have also been popular choices, according to Gillard, who said the ultimate trend this year is costumes inspired by Netflix’s Squid Games. The store doesn’t have dedicated show-inspired costumes, but Gillard said individuals can concoct their own outfits by assembling items sold individually.
“We can’t keep product on the wall…. we have been busy, pretty much since September,” she said. “[On Saturday] we had a lineup, the parking lot was crazy. Last Sunday, we actually had to only let 10 people in at a time, we were so busy… we don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s health.”
Mark Flores knew exactly what he was shopping for before he visited the store on Sunday. This year the Murrayville resident is dressing up as Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.
Flores said Halloween is something he and his family look forward to each year, but didn’t mark the holiday last year due to health restrictions.
“This year we’re going to hang out with some family and have an in-house get-together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gillard is still undecided on her costume this year, but she doesn’t mind since it will provide another opportunity for her to be among the frightening displays.
Gillard’s role requires a full day on her feet, but she doesn’t mind, because her efforts there also mean she’s helping support an important cause.
Spirit Halloween is raising money for BC Children’s Hospital. At the register, customers are welcome to make a direct monetary donation or round-up their total amount owed, donating the added amount to the foundation.
As of Sunday, the Langley location had raised $12,000 dollars, but Gillard is hoping that number is much higher when the haunting season comes to an end.
The community can find Gillard all this week at the pop-up shop in Willowbrook (20202 66 Ave.), where she’ll be fulfilling her seasonal target of smiling faces.
“For me, to get out and about and greet people, and find that special costume for them to use on Halloween – this is my cup of tea,” she said.
“Putting a smile on people’s faces is always something I enjoy.”
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