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Culture Couch is WYSO's occasional series exploring the arts and culture scene in our community. It’s stories about creativity – told through creative audio storytelling.

Foy's Halloween celebrates 93 years of 'spooktacular' fun

Friday and Saturday nights in October draw a crowd to the Foy stores.
Renee Wilde
/
WYSO
Friday and Saturday nights in October draw a crowd to the Foy stores.

Ghouls and gals are making the annual pilgrimage to Foy's Halloween and Variety Store. The 93-year-old family run business is the oldest store in Fairborn, and it’s become such a popular Halloween destination that over the years the Foy’s have added two costume shops, a haunted house supply store and a haunted museum to this city block.

Fans of the 1980’s movie Big, starring Tom Hanks will recognize the animated voice of Zoltar, a coin operated fortune telling machine which greets customers coming in the store. “What are you waiting for, come on over. For a small fee, Zoltar will give you a wealth of wisdom”.

Step through the door at Foy's Halloween and Variety Store and into another time. Old fashioned glass candy cases and wooden bins full of novelty items, like vampire teeth and plastic law enforcement badges, pack the narrow aisles. On the walls costume masks of every imaginable kind are displayed floor to ceiling.

Norm Foy and his son henry in the store.
Renee Wilde
/
WYSO
Norm Foy and his son henry in the store.

Micheal Foy is the third generation to operate this independent five and dime store.

“I’m sure I was 3 when I first started coming in. They couldn’t get me out of here,” Foy said from behind a counter with bottles of fake blood. “ I’ve only lived within 2 blocks of the store my whole life. I’ve never gone any farther. This is where I’ve been my whole life, and where my dad was from [age] 7 until he died.“

Every year in October, Mike and two of his employees transform this store and the surrounding downtown area into a halloween mecca that draws visitors from hundreds of miles.

Aliens and beasts perch on rooftops and cling to the sides of buildings, and zombies and monsters inhabit the sidewalks down the boulevard on Main Street. The scenes spill into the surrounding residential area where Mike has kept his grandparents, and parents, empty houses which he decorates, along with his own home nearby in a former Catholic church.

“Our store turns 100 in seven years, [and] I turn 70 the same year - so it’s going to be a big party here.”
Mike Foy, Owner and Operator of Foy's Halloween and Variety Store

Mike even bought empty lots in the area just to display some of his massive Halloween creations, like zombie pirate ships and haunted horse drawn coaches.

“People come down and make a night of it. You know, they can come in and not buy one thing and just look at everything, and that makes me happy, “ Foy said.

Even on a sunny afternoon, crowds of people come to see the displays. A young girl named Maggie, yelps and runs into the store - surprised by a zombie throwing up radioactive bile on the sidewalk in front of the store.

Every October the Foys team transforms Main Street in Fairborn, Ohio for halloween.
Renee Wilde
/
WYSO
Every October the Foys team transforms Main Street in Fairborn, Ohio for halloween.

Inside, Chris Veitch is looking at vintage inspired, die-cut halloween decorations made by a friend's company called Trick or Treat Studios. Chris makes the hour and a half drive from Columbus every year after a co-worker told him about Foy’s.

“He said you have to go to this place near Dayton.” Chris recalled. “He said the whole town is Halloween.”

One of the biggest draws for the store is the incredible selection of costume masks. There are over fifteen hundred different masks, some of which, Mike Foy says, are custom made just for the store.

“Mask’s are probably my favorite thing,” Foy said looking at the rows of silicon faces. “These are Michael Myers masks. Every year for the past five years we’ve sold out of every Micheal Myers mask that we’ve had.”

Mike Foy, 3rd generation store owner, in front of some of the 1,500 masks the store carries.
Renee Wilde
/
WYSO
Mike Foy, 3rd generation store owner, in front of some of the 1,500 masks the store carries.

"What is it about Michael Myers?" Foy asked. “It’s everybody’s favorite horror mask. There’s probably 40 Micheal Myers masks, 40 different ones. There’s so many different movies and they made masks for each movie. The new one is Halloween Ends, which is the most sought after mask.”

Reaching into his pocket, Foy pulled out his cell phone and plays his ring tone, “This is how much I like Halloween,” he laughed as the theme from the Halloween movie plays.

Up at the cash register David Combs was checking out. “I bought a Creature From The Black Lagoon and a Jeepers Creepers mask. Those are for a display that I have. I’m into classic monsters.”

“I can’t move from here. It’s just a little five and ten, but it's just something my grandfather started is a big deal to me.”
Mike Foy, Owner and Operator of Foy's Halloween and Variety Store

Down one of the jam-packed isles a tiny girl named Rose is shopping with her brother and grandparents. Rose shows me her purchases which include a pair of plastic vampire teeth. “I’m going to be a princess dressed up like a vampire,” the little girl told me.

Mike Foy says that costumes have come a long way since the store's early days.

“Back then they didn’t have all the Halloween stuff there is now. We had plastic masks and plastic costumes. It’s just gotten so big, Halloween has - it gets bigger every year, every year.” Foy said that without Halloween this store wouldn’t be here. “All the five and tens except one that I know of in Ohio are gone, because they just ran their course,” he said. “Halloween saved this store.”

Halloween is so popular, in fact, that Foy said that he could have moved into a space ten times the size of this historic brick building.

Mike Foy with his grandfather norm in the store.
Renee
/
Wilde
Mike Foy with his grandfather norm in the store.

“I can’t move from here. It’s just a little five and ten, but it's just - something my grandfather started is a big deal to me.” Foy said that everywhere he looks is a story. “My dad’s been gone for 35 years and there’s still signs that he made in here in the case that I can’t take out. I think about him every day. People will say this is where I came, this is what I did when I was growing up. [It] makes me feel good when I hear something like that.”

Eventually Mike Foy’s 25 year old son will be the fourth generation to take over the store, but for now, Mike’s looking forward to celebrating two milestone anniversaries in 2029. “Our store turns 100 in seven years, (and) I turn 70 the same year - so it’s going to be a big party here.”

Renee Wilde was part of the 2013 Community Voices class, allowing her to combine a passion for storytelling and love of public radio. She started out as a volunteer at the radio station, creating the weekly WYSO Community Calendar and co-producing Women’s Voices from the Dayton Correctional Institution - winner of the 2017 PRINDI award for best long-form documentary. She also had the top two highest ranked stories on the WYSO website in one year with Why So Curious features. Renee produced WYSO’s series County Lines which takes listeners down back roads and into small towns throughout southwestern Ohio, and created Agraria’s Grounded Hope podcast exploring the past, present and future of agriculture in Ohio through a regenerative lens. Her stories have been featured on NPR, Harvest Public Media and Indiana Public Radio.