How a Mom and Pop Shop Became New York City’s Go-To Halloween Store
Located in the heart of the Flatiron District at 19 West 21st Street, Abracadabra is arguably the most outrageous store in all of New York City.
A Halloween riddle: What’s got ghosts and gargoyles, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers, multi-colored confetti, and Jason’s Machete? What’s got wigs, makeup, and Hulk Hogan’s white hair, while a man sizzles in an electrocution chair? Any guesses? That’s all right. We know this isn’t your classic Halloween wisecrack. The answer: Abracadabra—New York City’s home for all things Halloween.
Located in the heart of the Flatiron District at 19 West 21st Street, it’s hard not to notice what’s arguably the most outrageous store in all of New York City, with its life-size Sasquatch and zombie magician-clad window display. Step inside and you’ll be greeted with a blood-soaked butcher shop (swap the salami for severed body parts), half-eaten zombies, and a smoke-spewing gargoyle. With a staff of around 50 people just as quirky as the decor, it’s no wonder Abracadabra has evolved from a small storefront into what it is today an 11,000-square-foot treasure trove, with more than 2,000 masks, 12,000 costumes, and a costume wig shop—complete with a live-in feline friend.
It all started 30-plus years ago on Christopher Street, and much like many spooky stories, its origin is somewhat of a mystery. But what we do know is that current owner, Bob, transformed this mom-and-pop shop into a Halloween emporium.
“You name it, we’ve got it,” says Naika Cadet, Abracadabra’s assistant general manager. She’s also its costume manager, marketing manager, public relations manager, assistant buyer, and self-proclaimed social media diva. From 18th-century Victorian gowns and ‘70s velour suits to made-to-order costumes, wigs, and props, Abracadabra is one Halloween haven that’s delivering an experience much different than its pop-up counterparts. “We don’t pop up and pop back down. We pop up and we stay up,” Cadet says of the authenticity that comes with a store dedicated to costumes 365 days a year.
According to Cadet, the store’s season doesn’t begin and end with fall’s bone-chilling festivities. Comic Con, Santa Con, New Year’s Eve, luaus, and nautical-themed parties bring an array of crazy requests to the store all year round. And it doesn’t stop there. Everyone from Jimmy Fallon and his buddies on SNL to Law & Order and Boardwalk Empire enlist Abracadabra’s assistance when it comes to custom costumes and props.
So, how did a small storefront evolve into “the household name” of Halloween paraphernalia? Cadet credits its success to the personalized, hands-on attention the staff gives to its customers. “I want to have all my staff make the shopping experience like you are shopping with your best friend,” she says. “We joke around with you, and we give you our honest opinion.”
And it is this customer-oriented mentality, as well as her innate love for this spooky season, that drove Cadet to do what most of us only hope and dream to achieve in our careers—to love what we do, day in and day out. “The look in someone’s eyes when they get the costume they’ve always wanted, and they look so great in it, that is what I go to work for every day.”
If you live in New York or are visiting the Big Apple, make sure to stop by Abracadabra to see what the magic is all about, and maybe some of Cadet’s enthusiasm will rub off on you.
“It’s not just clothing. It’s not just costumes. We are selling a lifestyle. We are selling Instagram pictures. We are selling Facebook likes. We are selling memories of a night you won’t forget—or a night you can’t remember.”