First of several Halloween retailers to open this month

School has just started and Labor Day is still weeks away, but the Halloween shopping season begins next week in Gwinnett County.

Spirit Halloween, located at 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 520 at Sugarloaf Mills, opens next Thursday, Aug. 21. The Halloween retailer’s other Gwinnett location — 860 Duluth Highway, Suite 110 in Lawrenceville — opens Sept. 9.

Spirit Halloween, according to company spokesperson Lisa Barr, is the largest Halloween specialty retailer in the country with more than 1,100 locations. The company, which has been in operation for 31 years, offers costumes, party goods, accessories and other holiday-related merchandise.

“At the heart of Spirit Halloween is Spirit of Children (www.spiritofchildren.com), a program which focuses on making hospitals less scary for kids and their families,” Barr said.

For the 2014 season, the company’s goal is to raise $5.2 million. Since its inception in 2006, more than $21 million has been contributed to the cause.

In addition to the Spirit Halloween stores, Halloween City will also be opening soon at 2205 Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth. A subsidiary of Party City, Halloween City launched in 1977 and now operates more than 400 Halloween superstores nationwide. The company carries thousands of Halloween costumes and home décor items.

Company representatives were unable to provide the opening date of the Duluth store, but most Halloween City locations are open from early September to early November.