‘The mom and pop shop for horror’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Story Dawn Nolan | Photography Submitted

An abandoned video rental store sounds like a potential setting for a horror movie. And for someone who loves those types of films, like Catlettsburg native, Chris Kirby, it helped spark a business idea.

“My wife and I were driving by the old Blockbuster in Ashland one day, and I thought it would be such a cool place to open like a horror museum, a real mom and pop shop,” Kirby said. “I love that phrase, ‘mom and pop shop,’ and what it means to be that type of business,”

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It means so much to him, in fact, that when Kirby launched his horror-centric online retail shop, Spookiez, earlier this year, he added the tagline, “The Mom and Pop Shop for Horror.”

“I want to have a personal connection and build relationships with my customers — just like the old days when you walked into your local rental store to grab the latest horror film to watch with your friends that night,” Kirby said. “I want them to trust me and trust that I know what they love and will work hard to find it for them.”

Currently, Spookiez carries exclusive apparel from Creepy Co.®, assorted collectables — like mini character busts and air fresheners (called “Fear Freshners”) from Trick or Treat Studios, “Blood Bath” bath bombs from Mom Bombs as well as a variety of posters. Kirby also said that he is working on some original designs and wants to partner with some tattoo artists to bring the concepts to life.

“Our goal is to provide horror fans quality merch from our own brand, giving everyone unique and tasteful designs with each piece of Spookiez branded clothing, but also other brands,” he said.

While he had hoped to set up a brick-and-mortar location in Ashland, the plans fell through. So, for now, he is focusing on the online route and occasional pop-ups. He hopes to continue to collaborate with Talmadge Callihan, of Conquest Books in downtown Ashland, where he held Spookiez first pop-up, as well as other local businesses.

“Talmadge [Callihan, the owner] was actually the one who inspired me to start a business,” Kirby said.

It’s an interesting idea for someone who claimed he was a “big chicken” as a child.

“I was definitely scared of them, but I wanted to be cool like my cousins,” Kirby said.

As he faced his fears, horror films became one of his biggest passions — exploring it through his own podcast and Youtube videos.

“My favorite is the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It,’ but I also love the classics like ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’,” Kirby said. “I think horror movies are important culturally because there are a lot of topical issues in the subtext, and I think they’re easier to explore in those types of movies.” 

From customer rewards to giveaways to actor meet-and-greets and “scare packages,” Kirby wants to use Spookiez as a way to grow and a            build a community.

“I want to bring horror here,” Kirby said. “And I have a lot of plans.”

To shop online, visit spookiezhorror.com. Find Spookiez on Facebook @spookiezhorrormerch and Instagram @spookiezhorror.