From the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

The few appropriate Halloween-related ceramics and collectibles Rebecca Allen could find always flew out the door of her home accessories and gift store, Owen Allen. But finding the right product wasn't easy-after all, Owen Allen's image doesn't exactly lend itself to wax lips and scary costumes. So this month, Allen is hoping to cash in on more of the Halloween market by turning her location into one of Winter Park, Florida's largest indoor pumpkin patches.

"We're creating a themed setting with vines, hay bales and carved pumpkins to get customers in the store," says Allen, 34. "It's a great way to promote our store in a way that incorporates the holiday and fits our image."

With Halloween-related expenditures at an eye-popping $2.96 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, customers are definitely not afraid of spending at this time of year. Doug Fleener, president of Dynamic Experiences Group, a retail consulting firm in Lexington, Massachusetts, has some tips for retailers who may not think that Halloween will work for them:

Apply some merchandising madness. Showcase jewelry on creepy monster hands, or find other ways to integrate Halloween-themed décor.

Build a holiday-related promotion. "Create a broom promotion or a 'Just Because It's Halloween' sale," suggests Fleener.

Enlist your employees. Have staff don appropriate costumes or wear holiday-themed pins or hats. Says Fleener, "Fun can go a long way toward setting your store apart from the competition."