By Pam DeFiglio, Patch.com
Who knew? It turns out that Skokie is the go-to place for haunted house designers, movie set designers, and anyone planning a scary Halloween display.
A business called Skeleton-Factory.com sells anatomically accurate, 7-foot skeletons, and all manner of ghouls, grim reapers, zombies and other scary figures. But they started out selling skeletons to medical schools.
They were too busy to speak to the press before Oct. 31, but Liz Huff, marketing director for Anatomical Worldwide, found time on the big day to tell us how it happened.
Patch: How did Skeleton Factory get started? (Was somebody obsessed with anatomy? Or Halloween?)
Liz Huff of Anatomical Worldwide: We actually started out selling anatomical models, and after a lot of interest in broken or defective skeletons for Halloween applications, we started producing Halloween-specific skeletons for our customers and launched www.Skeleton-Factory.com
Who are the owners? Is it a family owned business?
We’re a privately held company, owned by the Cordell family of Chicago.
What was the original concept? To sell skeletons to medical schools, perhaps? (I'm just taking a wild guess there.)
Yep, we started out selling anatomical skeletons and models to medical students and professionals, as well as schools, universities, and governments. That’s why some of our skeletons, like the Budget Bucky, are so life-like – they literally started “life” as an anatomical model.
What is your business now? It looks like you offer some scientific products and some Halloween products.
Keeping true to our educational roots, we’ve continued to offer anatomical charts and anatomical models on Skeleton-Factory.com, however, we do have another website dedicated exclusively to medical education, which is www.anatomywarehouse.com. Every year we add more Halloween props to Skeleton-Factory, but the educational products stay pretty much the same on Skeleton-Factory. It’s pretty cool to see someone buy a hardcore Halloween skeleton and then a Skeletal System anatomical chart to hang up next to it. A lot of the posters end up in tattoo shops and garages.
Who are your main customer bases?
All kinds of people buy our stuff, but it’s mainly a mix of serious Halloween enthusiasts who end up with the craziest yard in their neighborhood, and amateur-to-professional prop builders. A lot of production companies buy our stuff to use on film sets as well – in fact, if there are any fans of a certain TV show about zombies and a rugged cop trying to save his family and a group of survivors, we just shipped a few hundred skulls and skeletons to their set down in Georgia…but we can’t say much more than that, so you’ll just have to check out episode 1 of season 4 when it airs!
I get why you are busy before Halloween. But why are you busy before Christmas?
Halloween enthusiasts look forward to 10/31 more than any other day of the year, but they get started with their props and decorations for the next year starting 11/1. The serious haunted houses we work with are already planning themes and decorations for 2014, and since it takes them months and months to complete projects, they have to get started as soon as the big day ends. Besides, for our general enthusiast market, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a set of skulls or life-size skeleton for a friend or family member, so people often buy gifts for loved ones right after Halloween.
Your website says you are at 8111 St. Louis Ave., Skokie. Is that where the whole business is, or only part of it?
That’s our corporate office and it’s connected to one of our larger warehouses, but we have another location on the East Coast that we use for overflow.
Can people buy anything if they go to that address?
We love to meet our customers face-to-face, but since this is our corporate office and not a retail store and we don’t stock everything here year-round, we definitely encourage you to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 888.391.7739 to set up an appointment before swinging by. That way, we can pull stuff from the warehouse ahead of time and give you dedicated attention. You can usually place an order online and come pick it up at the office/warehouse if you want to save on shipping costs and meet the team, too.