The teen and young adult years are peppered with trips to mall-based Spencer Gifts for lava lamps, beer pong tables, black lights, posters, rubber vomit, and fuzzy dice. Its novelty and pop-culture products include apparel, jewelry, decor, and seasonal items, including Halloween merchandise. Spencer Gifts, also known as Spencer's, operates more than 600 shops in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, as well as 900-plus seasonal Spirit Halloween locations nationwide. Spencer Gifts and Spirit Halloween also operate e-commerce sites. Founded in 1947 as a mail-order catalog, the novelty gift retailer is owned by ACON Investments, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, and the company's management.
While its network of namesake stores has remained relatively stable, Spencer Gifts has invested more in its Halloween concept store because it requires significantly less overhead. In recent years, the retailer has aggressively boosted the number of its Spirit Halloween stores, which are usually open for about two months in the fall each year. When Spencer Gifts bought the Halloween products purveyor in 1999, it had a mere 63 stores. Spencer Gifts also partnered with Playboy to peddle Playboy jewelry and also offers a selection of adult merchandise, including bondage gear and edible apparel, for online customers 18 years old and up. In recent years the retailer has begun to offer customers an online Design-A-Tee studio for creating relatively low-cost custom-order T-shirts.
The company has retail operations in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
ACON acquired the company in 2007 from Gordon Brothers Group, which had purchased Spencer Gifts in 2003 from Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment (now Vivendi). ACON retained CEO Steven Silverstein, who joined Spencers from now-defunct Linens 'n' Things in 2003. While Silverstein has tinkered with the merchandise mix at Spencer Gifts -- adding jewelry, a new line of rock-inspired apparel, and martial arts gear, he says the stores will always sell lava lamps. – less