“Jack” and “Sally” hand out candy at The Shops at Montebello’s drive-thru Halloween event.

“Jack” and “Sally” hand out candy at The Shops at Montebello’s drive-thru Halloween event. Photo by Thomas Wasper

This year’s Halloween celebration at the Shops at Montebello was different.

Instead of visiting stores and getting candy from merchants, children nestled in the back of family cars that drove slowly through rows of decked-out lowrider vehicles parked at the shopping center.


With the windows rolled down, the candy still poured in.


“‘Pivot’ has really been our word for the year,” said Marina Satoafaiga, the mall’s marketing and business development manager. “We are thrilled to be able to do (trick-or-treating) safely, and we plan to really use this as a template for the rest of our holiday season.”


The turnout surpassed Satoafaiga’s expectations, with event registrations selling out within 48 hours. Instead of 800 guests participating in the drive-thru event, an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 guests made the scene.


Halloween weekend also went well at Shawn’s Pumpkin Patch.


“On Friday and Saturday nights, I had a line of people waiting to get in, from two hours to three hours,” said owner Shawn Wilk.


Instead of setting up his usual two pumpkin patches, Wilk decided to downsize his operation this year with just one pumpkin patch on the border of the Mar Vista and Palms neighborhoods.


“Surprisingly, it was a very good year,” he said. “And here I was worried that people would not come out. The revenue went down because my other patch had slides and a bungee jump, but I was content with it for what we had here.”


Wilk said that keeping the pumpkin patch clean and sanitized this year required “a lot of extra work. When you came in, we took your temperature, and then we put sanitizer on your hands. And if you went on the train, every time the trains stopped, we would wipe down all the cars. … We are still here cleaning up, taking down decorations, packing everything away, and flipping it over to be a Christmas tree lot. We open on Black Friday.”


Last month Shon Le Blanc, owner of the Costume House in North Hollywood, said he was in wait-and-see mode. But his hopes for a busy Halloween season were dashed as October drew to a close.  


“This was a very unusual Halloween,” Le Blanc said. “It would have been a good one for us as Halloween was on a Saturday. But we had the pandemic and the cancellation of the West Hollywood parade and all the big, medium and small Halloween parties and events. (It) really killed my business. Usually we are open 31 days and late hours with a lot of extra staff on and do hundreds of rentals. This year I did three (rentals).”


Halloween sales were also down at Jakks Pacific Inc., a Santa Monica-based toymaker that makes popular costumes under various licenses through its subsidiary Disguise.


“Retailers selling Halloween products were quite cautious when ordering Halloween products, leading to lower shipments to these retailers despite the fact that Halloween was on a Saturday, which typically gives a boost to our sales,” Chief Executive Stephen Berman told analysts during a Nov. 2 earnings call.


“Sales in our Halloween segment Disguise decreased 27% to $55 million in the third quarter of 2020 compared to $75.8 million last year.”


Berman was optimistic about next year, though.


“Halloween lands on a Sunday,” he said, “which usually gives the industry a lift compared to when Halloween lands on a weekday.”

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