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Halloween holdup: Fast fashion, virality, and hustle culture

by | Sep 28, 2023 | Culture | 0 comments

Picture this:

The crisp bite of autumn is in the air with all its oranges, yellows, and browns littering the rime-bitten grass. It’s a time of harvest, coming comforts, layered clothes, pumpkin spice, and soup. For some, in anticipation of Halloween, it’s goddamn spooky season. 

However, some folks are experiencing fast-fashion frustration as they prepare to festoon their living spaces with ghastly merchandise. Known purveyors of seasonal kitsch are seeing scarcity of spooky-themed items at higher rates than usual. 

The seasonal surge in demand for decor is amplified by product virality on social media.

Sabrina, a St. Albert resident who buys Halloween decorations says, “A huge part of this is when one person — who might be an influencer — posts a pillow that has a super cute ghost on it, or whatever, and then it goes viral and then hundreds of thousands of people are looking for it. And what is happening is that folks are seeing the need for or the want for these things.”
Where there’s virality, resellers, and hustlers follow.

There’s an entire scarcity-based industry behind the purchase and resale of these hellishly popular Halloween items. This deepens the frustration for folks like Sabrina. Stores like Marshalls, Homesense, Winners, and other seasonal decor haunting grounds have line-ups at the door on delivery days which are filled with people looking to cash in on so-called viral Halloween items. 

“They don’t allow anybody the opportunity to buy anything because they’ll buy it and then resell it at twice the price on Facebook marketplace.” 

Of course, the practice of capitalizing on hot commodities is not new. Anyone who has ever dabbled in the selling market of collectible items knows this. However, the demand generated by TikTok virality takes this practice to new heights when combined with the limited-time nature of Halloween-related items.

Historically, resales like these have been incredibly frustrating for consumers. But, with inflation soaring in Canada, people are bound to look to other income sources to compensate. The relatively quick turnaround time and the low-skill ceiling required to resell spooky wares may be an attractive niche to people feeling Canada’s economic crunch. When combined with an overwhelming presence of hustle culture on social media, it’s hard to not feel obligated to see “opportunity” where others might cry “exploitation”. 
Jolene, 30, burns her midnight oil finding and flipping items and adds value through minor repairs or cosmetic improvement. Her approach, however, is a little different:

“I see a product being sold for less than it should be, and I buy it because I can make more money off it. Not in an unreasonable way, but a lot of the time, people don’t understand the value of what they’re selling, or they just want it gone,” says Jolene.

When pressed on the difference, she didn’t pass much judgment on people flipping ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Despite consumer frustrations, she didn’t attribute malice as a motivator. To her, it’s all business that can often come from sources we can all relate to.

“It’s the threat of losing your house or family,” she says.

Graphics by Thai Sirikoone

Zach Dafoe

The Griff


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