BROOKSVILLE — October brings with it one of the calendar year's popular holidays — Halloween.
But at Celebrations by Carrie in Brooksville, it's only one occasion for festivities and, frankly, not as popular as it once was, says owner Carrie Smith.
"It's just not a big deal anymore," said Smith, owner of the party-planning and party-dressing shop for 26 years, now at the corner of S Broad Street and Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard.
Halloween remains a big draw for candy-loving kids who like to dress up, Smith acknowledged, but adult office parties and block parties seem to be on the decline, she said.
After this year, she plans to discontinue carrying Halloween items and decor, meaning that celebrants this year can shop at half price. For instance, someone can dress as a gruesome version of the Predator for $80. An adult can transform from human to two-faced, black-draped ghoul for $40.
While the adult line is limited, horror, gothic, roaring '20s, sexy, and cops and robbers costumes are available at prices starting at $15. Sizes from extra small to full figure hang ready in the shop.
Decorating and party items include paper fright tape, similar to real-life crime scene tape; hang-up spider webs; themed paper plates and napkins; honeycomb paper pumpkins; and ghost and devil treat dishes, likewise half-priced.
Smith will special-order costumes, such as the one she ordered last week for a resident attending his granddaughter's Halloween wedding. The customer will strut down the aisle as a Confederate Army officer, for $60. Halloween orders can be accepted as late as a week before the need.
The sell-off will provide Smith more space for other lines of goods — "Event Planning & Decorating A to Z," according to her business card. Specifically, Christmas and New Year's party necessities and niceties will expand into the vacated space.
In time, items for those holidays will be replaced by the trappings for Valentine's Day, the single-most popular holiday for Celebrations by Carrie.
The greatest demand of the love-smitten at the shop?
A kit featuring a 5-foot-tall helium or air-filled balloon, its basket loaded by Smith with a customer's selection of candy, wine, flowers or love trinkets.
"One time, there was an engagement ring in it," Smith noted.
The balloon kit is a popular centerpiece for many events, she added, including dance recitals, homecomings, wedding and baby showers, and parties for Sweet Sixteen or Over the Hill.
As for decorating, weddings are the big, year-round celebrations for which Smith and her family staff pull out all the stops, providing and setting up dramatic archways, decorative columns, champagne and punch fountains, tents and dance floors, elegant centerpieces and show-stopping cake stands.
Also available are tuxedo rentals, from $49, in demand not just for weddings and anniversaries, but seasonally for high school homecoming dances and proms.
Smith will plan weddings and social events for 10 to 500. She offers discounts to civic, service and school groups.
While Smith, 51, reigns over the shop, her husband, Edward, and their adult children, Jordan and Shana, join in for event setups and cleanups.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.