Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Whoa, Gordman's, Slow Down Buddy!

So this will be 2016's first post about actual Halloween merchandise I've browsed, and normally, that distinction would go to Michael's craft stores, a nationwide chain that tends to stock its Halloween items by the last days of July...but this year, I'm afraid Michael's has been beaten to the punch.

Gordman's is a store that basically only exists out here in Iowa, my wife's home state where we've been living for about a year. Discovering this place only last September, I was frankly blown away by the positively outrageous volume and variety of Halloween items this little place had in stock, with over fifty creepy knick-knacks I thought were worth photographing and reviewing while most others stores are lucky to break ten.

So, one season later, the thought crossed my mind that if Gordman's goes so overboard in Halloween volume, chances are it might start showing off the goods even earlier than Michael's...and my hunch was entirely correct. By July 30th, our Gordman's had already stocked four entire aisles of spookery, with no sign of slowing down.

So, we're going to take a look at some of the Halloween goodies you can already purchase if you happen to live within driving distance of Des Moines right now, and we'll probably revisit Gordman's later in the season to see what else they've got on offer...

Huge Metal Owl

We'll start off with our most innocuous item, though I only categorize it as such because this owl doesn't look necessarily exclusive to Halloween. It's only subtly spooky, in that charming way of all stylized owls, but isn't it just wonderful? I can't get enough of those freaky flower-like eyes owls apparently have according to most seasonal decor, I love the lacy orange stomach, I love the pale moldy green edges and I love the individually cut feathers on the wings. This is one quality owl, and at about three feet tall and almost as wide, it's big enough to carry around as a lightweight shield.

Suspender Pumpkins

These wobbling, metal pumpkin guys are pretty fun, namely because they have no solid bodies inside their suspenders and pants at all, giving them an "invisible ghost" sort of effect.

Rustic Skull Box

This thing looks SO cool! I'd actually really like to get one of these for tasteful home use, like a place to store keys or mail or someone's actual regular skull. Unfortunately, I didn't check the price, and we're actually going to be moving soon anyway. I've got a packed car's worth of belongings already set aside, and anything else I buy between now and then would just have to gather dust in storage for an unknown length of time.

On the other hand...rustic skull box.

Rustic Skeleton Couple

Gordman's, why do you DO this to me?! This is even BIGGER and LESS practical than rustic skull box, but look at it! It's a pair of married skeletons who also look a little like the scream painting and a little like you just caught them fooling around in a closet. I don't know why they'd be screaming about that, we're all adults here, unless the problem is that these two just got married...to two OTHER skeletons. WUH-OH! Looks like the real skeletons in the closet were themselves all along!

Rustic Skeleton Bride

In fact, could this cutie be the bride of one of our other two skeletons? She certainly looks lonely, and kind of forcing a half-smile, like she still wants to believe her new spouse merely popped off for a restroom break but it's been like half an hour now.

Rustic Skeleton With a Giant Hat

I dunno how this guy fits into our tangled web of romantic skeleton scandal. Skelandle? Scandalton? Ugh, a portmanteau WANTS to emerge here but NOTHING WORKS!

He's certainly hilarious, though. Look at that shriek! He even has a goofy little tongue!

Metal Skeleton Cats

What a cool, simple item. It's a little metal sign that looks like a screeching cat skeleton. Pretty nicely detailed for its size and $5 price, too. Animal skeletons of all sorts are always a welcome sight.

MINI Candy Corn People!

Last year, one of my favorite Gordman's items was a GIANT-size version of this candy corn character, but its price tag was just a little too steep for me.

These are only a quarter the size, but their price...is actually kind of still a bit much. Thirteen bucks. They're so damn adorable it's hard not to cave, but they really seem more like "$7.99" territory, right? Watch this be the last I ever see either iteration, though. I already know I'm being a complete fool. Decades from now, I'll be telling my grown-up children of the wooden anthropomorphic candy corn that got away.

Rotting Crow on a Skull

Okay, it's actually perched atop a pillar of three skulls, but I forgot to take a full-body shot. The bird is what's important. At a distance you can't even tell if anything is really wrong with it, but up close, we can see its exposed ribs, featherless face and empty, bony eye sockets! Killer!!

Spider Pumpkins

Pumpkins with spider legs appear with modest frequency this time of year, but I feel like they're seldom appreciated for what they are. Are they spiders wearing pumpkins, or bona-fide arachnobotanical hybrid abominations? Either way, they've almost always got a positive outlook about it.

Dead Cat on a Skull

Wow, this is morbid. That is clearly just a tiny little kitten, and at least half of it has completely decomposed. I've got some pretty neat undead cat items over the years, but the way this one is so realistically far gone and still engaging in delightful kitten frolic feels so much more ghastly than the goriest "zombie cat" props out there...and while perhaps unintentional, its skull has a more human than feline quality that's downright chilling.

Little Wooden Mummy Sign

This pudgy, strange-eyed mummy, glued to a little wooden stake so you can stick in a potted plant or something, was only $1.50 and became my very first official Halloween purchase this year. I know the black rectangles are probably supposed to represent gaps in its bandages, but they aren't really properly illustrated that way, so they kind of just look like funky glasses or a pair of stylish eye patches.

Wooden Skeleton Cat

Okay, I don't know what Gordman's is trying to say here, but this makes three skeleton cats I've seen in one visit, three completely different styles and completely different materials. Gordman's is apparently ALL about the heavily decomposed felines this year.


We actually saw some pumpkin items just last year with cogs, bolts, zippers and screws for facial features, but they were in a radically different artistic style than these guys, who come in much more realistic details and are even a little creepy. I also like just how subtly the three of them differ; they have the same materials for eyes and noses, but they've got very different mouths. All three styles are cool in their own right, but I think the zipper wins for creep factor.

Witch Made of Pumpkins Bares it All

YOWZA, Witch Made of Pumpkins, put a t-shirt on already!!! There are children present!!

Irritated Winged Skeleton

This bat-winged skeleton looks pretty pissed, I guess because somebody asked it to sit on a pillar and hold their fondue pots for "just a second" and they've been gone for like, a half an hour now, possibly to make out with someone else's wife in a closet.

As you can see, Gordman's is quick to bring the world a tastefully stylish variety of skeletons and semi-skeletal phantasms marked way, way down from wherever they heck they originally get their stock, and they're one thing I'm definitely going to miss when we're a zillion miles from Iowa next year's season. Who knows what other kinds of impractical, large wooden skeletons and metal owls may completely escape me in the years to come! Have you considered a few new locations, Gordman's? Say, Oregon or Washington?

We're at least going to be here until mid-September of this year, and I'm sure they'll have a boatload of other treats on display well before then, so you can more than likely look forward to a Gordman's: Part II: We Get it Gordman's, You're the Halloween Master And Now You're Just Showing Off.