The Fallenstein kids were the envy of their neighborhood, thanks to mother Jenice’s creative, homemade Halloween costumes. In 1992, sisters Lisa, Heather, and Julie started renting out their old costumes from their garage. Brother Tom joined in part-time while studying computer science in college. After graduation, he decided to scare up new business by selling specialty costumes on their website, Halloweencostumes.com.
“I started building websites for us in 2004,” Tom says. “By October 2005, everything exploded.”
They took over their mom’s house, stocking inventory and shipping packages.
“We had to unplug the phone because we couldn’t take any more orders,” Tom says.
The family has since turned their garage operation into a full-fledged business in their hometown.
“The Internet has turned us from a small local rental company into a worldwide business.” – Tom Fallenstein, President & CEO
HalloweenCostumes.com sells costumes for adults, children, babies, and pets, as well as accessories and decorations. They’ve used AdWords, Google’s advertising program, since 2007 to attract customers looking for particular types of costumes.
“Our biggest traffic driver is AdWords, bringing in millions in sales,” Tom says.
They’ve redone their mobile-friendly website to appeal to shoppers using smartphones and mobile devices. Their social media, including Google+ and YouTube, showcases their vast inventory, demonstrating everything from mask-making to makeup-application techniques, and conjures up interest in costumes people never dreamed of (even in their best nightmares). Google Analytics lets them track what people are searching for and how they use the website.
HalloweenCostumes.com has $70 million in annual sales.
Since their humble beginnings in their family garage, the business has outgrown two buildings. They now occupy a 200,000-square-foot facility, employ 150 full-time staff, and hire 1,500 seasonal workers during Halloween. They’ve launched two specialty websites (fun.com and shirts.com) to keep business hopping off-season. And they’re expanding their brand internationally.
“My sisters and I stand in the aisles here and say, ‘Wow. This has come a long way from our parents’ house,'” Tom says. “Google created the opportunity for me to bring a small costume shop online—and then bring it to the world.”
For more information on the HalloweenCostumes.com case study, visit http://economicimpact.google.com.
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