In late October 2023, a TikTok user named Matt Shaver posted a video that he recorded while standing in front of a Spirit Halloween store, saying that he had just purchased a product labeled "Never Forget Family Costume" that referenced the 9/11 terrorist attacks and included outfits representing the former World Trade Center's twin towers and an airplane.
"Ok, so I just left Spirit Halloween, and can somebody tell me why I was able to buy this costume?," Shaver asked. "Look at this. Is that the twin towers? And the plane? You gotta be kidding me!"
The video was viewed more than 6 million times in less than a week.
However, the truth was that Shaver's TikTok account identified him as a comedian whose content is all about jokes and satire. He added a "parody" hashtag to the video's caption and commented under the video, "Y'all, it’s a joke."
For readers unfamiliar with Spirit Halloween, every year around the beginning of fall, American and Canadian consumers bear witness to the seemingly sudden pop-up nature of the well-known chain of stores. The stores primarily sell Halloween costumes, decorations, makeup and accessories.
Spirit Halloween stores take on short leases at retail spaces that previously were vacant, such as buildings that were formerly occupied by Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney, Sears or Toys R Us, for example. Basically, a previously-occupied, empty commercial space briefly comes back to life for a few months to offer shoppers plenty of ideas for the spookiest holiday of the year.