The staff at the Underground Dungeon, a specialty party gift retail store that offers a wide range of Halloween items every year, is keeping their doors open while they can during the pandemic.

Since the governor allowed retail stores to reopen at 25% capacity, Operations Manager Jeffrey Moylan said they are able to let 10 customers in at a time to browse the shelves filled with masks, costumes, decorations and more.

"It's basically like a club, one out and one in when you reach that capacity," he said.

This year, Moylan has had to make some tough choices about what to stock as the ongoing pandemic will alter how residents celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year.

"I went ahead and ordered what I could. What has happened now is COVID-19 has affected the supply chain, so there is a lot of delays," Moylan said.

He said people are still buying in preparation for the holiday, but purchasing habits have changed this year with all-out decorations not in high demand.

"Who is going to try to scare a lot of people right now, because there are no trick-or-treaters," Moylan said.

Most shoppers are looking for costumes, he said,  especially for the younger family members. And Moylan said he has noticed a change in customers' selection of costumes, too.

"They are coming in and buying a few items here and there, but it looks like they want to dress up the kids," he said. "Like if they want to be a ninja they will probably get a ninja costume but they are not getting the sword."

Moylan said costumers still plan to celebrate the holiday, just in a more toned down fashion this year.

"We live in America, so they want that traditional Halloween still to happen. So even if they can't go out to the mall to do the trick-or-treating, they are doing it in the house," he said.

This year's challenges

While Moylan is keeping the store open and trying to provide the best selection possible to his customers, he acknowledged the challenge of operating a small business during the pandemic.

He said he has had to limit the number of staff on duty and will be hundreds of thousands of dollars down in revenue this year.

"It might be more feasible for us to shut down and then maybe pop up like they do in the mainland," he said.

But for now the Underground Dungeon is still providing Halloween lovers a place to find something unique.

"There are a lot of specialty items that we carry that no one else carries," he said.

He said they are staying flexible and staying up to date on government mandates for the operations of nonessential businesses.

"We want to wait to see what the government will decide later this month," Moylan said.

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