SPRING HILL — At Spirit Halloween, almost any character born on the TV screen or the big screen is sure to be found — and prominently — among the ranks of costumes that have been readied for the spookiest holiday on the calendar.
"This year it's Minions and Descendants" that are most popular, said Eric Bratton, assistant manager of the seasonal pop-up store at Nature Coast Commons along Commercial Way, one of two Spirit Halloween locations in Hernando County. He referred to thimble-shaped cutesies and humanoid villians' offspring, respectively, based on movies released this year.
Amanda Stier, manager of the Spirit outlet at Mariner Square on Cortez Boulevard, concurred.
"Disney Descendants, oh my goodness. Everybody wants to be Mal," a villain's daughter that Stier described as "cute scary."
Both stores devote delineated sections to particular kid-popular characters, representing movies, comic books and cartoons, including The Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Frozen, Star Wars, Nightmare Before Christmas, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and others.
Nine-year-old Katie Jo Baker of Spring Hill darted among displays at the Nature Coast Commons store, saying maybe she would choose a Minion. Mom Suzy Baker gave her daughter room to roam, but mentioned, "We still like Frozen."
Dillon Bourbeau, 11, of Hudson toured more studiously, but didn't make a choice. His dad, Dan Bourbeau, working toward a festive mood, tried on a Batman mask, saying he would dress up in costume at work. Dillon responded to Dad's face of choice with a shrug and continued his own search.
Clerk Carole Smith said customers come for costumes first, but find "lots of goodies, accessories, jewelry, set-ups."
Cole Sievers, 4, and his brother, Christian Sievers, 8, of Spring Hill battled it out with every mock accessory within reach. Brandishing a sickle, Christian said the idea is to "scare."
Mom Raechelle Sievers said the brothers always gravitate to the frightful for Halloween.
Among the most gruesome dress-up accessories are glue-on body wounds, such lifelike punctures, slashes and bullet holes dripping "blood."
For those who don't like gore, Dr. Seuss characters get their due, along with Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Yogi Bear and friends, the Wizard of Oz and storied make-believes, among others.
Beyond the dress-up line, yard and home decor ranges from tombstones and hanging bodies to hairy spiders with leg spans up to 50 inches.
The most ostentatious fright delights, animatronics, also known as robotic props, include a body falling into a grave and a vampire leaping from an enclosure.
At $180 and up, they're also big sellers.
"There are a lot of haunted houses around here," Stier explained. "They want all our animated stuff."
A snarling three-headed dog sold out in September, she noted.
"It's too bad it's only (open for) Halloween," said Smith, the clerk.
The Spirit Halloween stores will be open through Nov. 3, with daily hours extended as Oct. 31 closes in. Merchandise will be reduced in price after Halloween.
"It's smart to shop early," Smith advised. "There's only limited costumes. They go quick."
Contact Beth Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.