Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deborah Blake on Celebrating Halloween at Your Store

Hi Booksellers,

Looking for ways to attract a crowd on Halloween? Here’s some fun, inexpensive ideas from author Deborah Blake on how to appropriately celebrate this sacred Pagan holiday at your store.

Celebrating Halloween and its Pagan Roots
By Deborah Blake

Halloween is a holiday that has an origin deep in Pagan roots. Its name comes from the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve, or Hallow Evening (hence Hallow E’en), which in turn was taken from the Pagan holiday we now call Samhain—pronounced Sow-win. Samhain is one of the most important holidays of the year for Pagans and Witches; it is considered to be the day on which the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and it is possible to speak to those we have lost, whether the recent dead or our ancestors. You can see where the “spooky” reputation of this holiday came from!

It can be tricky to balance the sacred nature of the spiritual holiday with the more commercial aspects of the secular celebrations that most people are accustomed to—but here are some suggestions for Halloween events that won’t demean the holiday . . . or cost an arm and a leg to put on.

Treasure Hunts
One of the easiest and most fun Halloween events that I have hosted at various bookstores is the “treasure hunt.” Find all the books in the store that have spooky or magical themes; this can include children’s stories, real-life books on ghosts, anything Pagan or related to Witches (yes—Harry Potter counts!), etc. You can then either write up a list for people to use as they hunt for the books (in which case, they have the list later to possibly shop from), or place bookmarks or other “markers” in the books that count towards the treasure hunt. You could even put a bookmark that is a coupon for any book it is in, in the hopes of selling a few in the process.

If you have a metaphysical or New Age store, you could try a scavenger hunt with clues, like “I am a clear rock used for boosting psychic energy” for a quartz crystal.

You could give a special prize to the first few customers who find all the “treasures” or simply offer candy and Halloween goodies to all participants. 

This can be aimed at kids or adults. You could invite a local author for a reading/signing event. Or arrange to have a staff member tell spooky or witchy stories.

Host a Costume Contest
Invite your staff to dress up, too.

Special Guests
Tarot readers and tealeaf readers are a popular attraction, and you can display books about psychic phenomenon near the reader’s table.

I suggest steering clear of insulting stereotypical witch make-up (long nose, green face and the like), but everyone loves a long black dress and a pointy hat. The trick is to celebrate this important Pagan holiday with respect, and treat all who come into your store as though they were V.I.W.’s—Very Important Witches.


Photo by John Mazarak
Deborah Blake's most recent book is Witchcraft on a Shoestring. She is also the author of Circle, Coven and Grove, Everyday Witch A to Z, The Goddess is in the Details, and Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook. She has published numerous articles in Pagan publications, including Llewellyn annuals and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker. She lives in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring
by Deborah Blake

Deborah can be found online at Facebook and Twitter. Or check out her website.

Deborah on her favorite metaphysical store:
“I get most of my supplies from AzureGreen and I have for many years. They have a wide range of stock, good quality and low prices, and the nicest folks working there. They’re a small company and I love them.”

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