Quintessence: Menlo’s most Halloweeny establishment
If there’s another shop in the whole country more jam-packed floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall with Halloween-themed items than Quintessence in downtown Menlo Park, we’d like to know about it. “I go to market and can’t help myself,” admits owner Adrienne Powers.
“Market” for Adrienne means the Atlanta Mart, which she attends each January to buy her Halloween and Christmas merchandise. She describes the Mart as three, 20-story buildings “that you can’t possibly get through in 10 days.”
“When I’m there, I try to buy things that will work together when displayed,” she explains. “Then when I’m opening the boxes after they’ve been shipped here, I number each by groups of what goes with what. It’s like putting together a puzzle. And my two right-hand guys help me pull it all off.”
When Quintessence opened eight years ago — or was it nine, Adrienne’s not sure! — it mainly featured antiques; they remain a part of what she sells. “I’ve been through two recessions,” she says. “During those conditions, people stop buying furniture, but they like small, darling things that they can buy and not feel guilty.
“Even from the beginning I’ve done holidays. Initially, I started small with just a few things, and people bought everything. Now Halloween is as big as Christmas.”
Oh yes, Christmas. On October 17, Adrienne will be shrinking her store literally in half. The public half will continue to feature the Halloween items while the hidden half begins the transformation from the ghoulish to the glittery for that most jolly of December holidays.