The business of Halloween

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    Goodreau carved this smurf and painted it blue.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

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    Doug Goodreau carves a pumpkin at his tent at the Piece College Halloween Harvest Festival in Woodland Hills, which is a suburb of Los Angeles.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

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    Every October, Goodreau leaves his job in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and works as a pumpkin artist. He makes about $5,000 during the month. Goodreau's business is up 10 percent this year.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

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    Goodreau carved this witch and painted it green. Goodreau's clients buy pumpkins in the pumpkin patch and pay him, usually between $20 and $80 to carve his designs.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

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    Doug Goodreau carves a small pumpkin.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

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    Goodraeau gets to work carving a large pumpkin.

    - Jennifer Collins/Marketplace

Steve Chiotakis: Hey -- Happy Halloween. Maybe you've noticed some guy down the street carved a better pumpkin than you. Or maybe your neighbor is
giving out higher-end candy.

As Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports, those folks may have had a little help.

Jennifer Collins: Doug Goodreau has been carving pumpkins...

Doug Goodreau: Ever since my dad would allow me to pick up a knife.

And every October, he leaves his job at L.A.'s Natural History Museum to pursue his other love: Transforming pumpkins into elaborate witches, Frankensteins and movie villains, for clients like 6-year-old Victoria Castro.

Victoria Castro: We have to decorate our pumpkin.

She's picking out a pumpkin at a local pumpkin patch with her dad, Edwin.

Edwin Castro: My daughter has a project at her school. I'm kind of lazy, didn't want to do the carving myself, so I thought I'd find someone here.

Doug Goodreau, who has set up shop near the pumpkins, says he gets a lot of business that way. Really complicated designs can cost hundreds of dollars. Sort of complicated, like Victoria's movie villain, about $50. One family gave him $20 for the standard triangle eyes and mouth.

Goodreau: They just didn't want to deal with the mess. So they sat there while their child watched me do that in 20 minutes.

And L.A. isn't the only place experiencing a little less Halloween D.I.Y. Bakers around the country say business is up for cupcakes and cakepops with spiders and mummies.

And in the Twin Cities, light installer Rob Schlosser says hanging Halloween lights is like Christmas in October.

Rob Schlosser: The purple and the orange are just awesome colors for Halloween.

He says his business is up 10 percent this fall.

Schlosser: People are working hard. The last thing they probably want to do is come home and work on their house.

Pam Goodfellow: If they need a little more help, saving time and maybe mess and hassle there, consumers are gravitating toward that.

Pam Goodfellow is with the firm BIGresearch. Goodfellow says Halloween spending is expected to be up about 15 percent this year. She says that's because Halloween is about escape.

Goodfellow: You go out and you kind of forget the economy and you throw all cares out the window.

And wake up the next day and search around for someone to take the load off for Thanksgiving.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.


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