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Worcester Magazine, October 2021
The heir to Halloween Outlet is not done striking fear into the heart of the Commonwealth.
“You were a kids’ entrance person?” Mark Arvanigian asked me.
“Yup,” I admitted.
“Me too,” he said, although I couldn’t tell if he was just trying to make me feel better about my aversion to horror.

Arvanigian’s masks certainly don’t look like the creations of a 'fraidy cat. Just the opposite. The Worcester designer has a licensing agreement with Grammy Award-winning metal band Slipknot, who famously perform in jumpsuits and attention grabbing facemasks. On top of that, a few of Arvanigian’s original designs, like the UFO Alien Encounter mask, have grown in popularity to become top products of the Halloween industry. He even produces a line of novelty wine labels with spooky faux titles like, “Embalming Fluid.” Arvanigian seems like the kind of guy who doesn’t shy away from a fright.

The kids entrance Arvanigian referred to during our chat was that of his old family business, Halloween Outlet. According to Arvanigian, what began as a basic party store in 1986 became a national touchpoint for Halloween fanatics during the '90s. “My parents realized they could make a year’s salary by focusing on Halloween for three months versus operating a party goods store full time,” he recalled. “We rode the Halloween wave.”

I vividly remember my one and only attempt at braving the adult entrance. I burst into tears at the sight of a hyper-realistic electric chair victim and that was that. The only way my mother ever convinced me to go back was to meet Butch Patrick who played Eddie on my favorite Nick at Night show, "The Munsters." I was relieved to find Patrick was not in fact a werewolf, but rather a friendly forty-something gentleman with nary a widow’s peak. The Arvanigians had even rigged up their own Munster Koach for the occasion.

Halloween Outlet’s legacy was built on family and joy. “My dad has always been a fun guy and he loves to do things that make people laugh and smile,” said Arvanigian. “People would visit from all over the country to see celebrity guests like paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren.”

Unlike many bygone retailers, online shopping was always a part of the Halloween Outlet’s early business models. “We were shipping over a thousand ecommerce orders per day from our warehouse so far back that Amazon used to fax us the orders,” Arvanigian remembered. The store may be closed, but Halloween is not. Arvanigian has taken his vast experience in the industry and launched a project of his own, Deja Boo, under the tagline "Shopping made scary simple."

There’s no kids entrance on the website, so proceed at your own risk. Split faces, killer clowns, and sickly zombies prevail, just like old times. “It would be impossible to recapture the magic of Halloween Outlet’s special moment in time, but we are going to put Worcester back on the map when it comes to Halloween,” he promised. Prepare yourselves.