Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail, and happy almost Halloween! Today, we’re taking another “stab” at a nearly five-year-old tradition and visiting some “costumed conversions.” These of course, are vacant retail stores that are temporarily “dressed up” as a Halloween pop-up shop. These costume conversions are one of those magical things that have crossed the retail barrier into mainstream pop culture. Tons of different Costume Conversions Memes have shown up on the web within the past two years. Sometimes real-life photos, sometimes photoshopped, they’re always a source of fun. This year, we’re keeping it simple, stupid (talking to myself here), and sticking with one grand location. The former Almeda Mall Burlington has been temporarily transformed into a Spirit Halloween, and if you have any desire to go, you’ve got one more day! To give a brief history, the building was initially built for JC Penney, which held one of the two major department store anchor spots in both Almeda and Northwest Malls. In 2006, Penneys decided to close this store after opening a new freestanding location nearby in Pasadena. It’s likely that at the time, the Almeda store was not underperforming but was simply the result of JCP looking to build more standing locations in Houston during this era.
In 2009, Burlington would move into the vacant JCP. The store would be given a thorough interior remodel and a new exterior facade over one entrance. Burlington’s adaptation of the space was a bit odd. Only opting to take over about half of the first floor. One quarter of which was sales floor, the other quarter warehouse, and “dead space.” The property was seemingly meant to be subdivided, with the entrance on the Southside being converted to fire doors and the entrances on the Westside remaining untouched. The second floor was also seemingly left untouched. The escalators did seem to be still around from a trip I took to the store in 2018, which includes a map of the described layout. While Burlington’s use of the space was a bit lackluster, they were still a prominent face, now vacant from Almeda Mall since their move to the former Woolco across the street. It was neat that Spirit was able to get this former mainline department store, and honestly, one of the only interesting spots for Halloween stores this year, which were limited. Unlike previous years, we did not see the return of independent Spooker’s Halloween to a storefront that seems to have operated from the family’s fireworks outlet this year. We also only saw a handful of Party City-operated Halloween Express stores. Hopefully, in the next few years, we’ll see a return to more interesting spots. Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween!