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A twist on creepy: Granby company carves a niche in Halloween industry

  • Gosciminski manufactures his Halloween products, like latex tongues and brains, left, and in categorized boxes like those above. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. Gosciminski manufactures and keeps his Halloween products inventory, like this foam hammer, in an Indian Orchard studio. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. Gosciminski manufactures and keeps his Halloween product inventory in this Indian Orchard studio. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. Gosciminski keeps his Halloween products inventory in this Indian Orchard studio. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby holds an unpainted foam form of a dismembered torso in his Indian Orchard studio where he manufactures and keeps his Halloween products inventory. He is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. In foreground is a gargoyle which he doesn't manufacture but does sell. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby holds a painted foam form of a blood torso in his Indian Orchard studio where he manufactures and keeps his Halloween product inventory. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is interviewed in the Indian Orchard studio of his company, Creepy Twists Productions, on Monday, July 3, 2017. He is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his Halloween products business. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions. The final winners in five categories will be determined by popular vote. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is interviewed in the Indian Orchard studio of his company, Creepy Twists Productions, on Monday, July 3, 2017. He is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his Halloween products business. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • These are foam bats wrapped with simulated barbwire (painted leather) manufactured by Zachary Gosciminski of Granby in his business, Creepy Twists Productions. He is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his Halloween products business. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Fake severed fingers were one of the first products Zachary Gosciminski of Granby manufactured. He is being recognized by eBay's SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his business, Creepy Twists Productions, which has its studio in Indian Orchard. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Zachary Gosciminski of Granby is interviewed in the Indian Orchard studio of his company, Creepy Twists Productions, July 3. He is being recognized by eBay’s SHINE awards as one of its top three Young Entrepreneurs for his Halloween products business which manufactures items like “Lizzie’s Forty Whacks Axe.” GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



@kate_ashworth
Sunday, July 09, 2017

GRANBY — When it comes to selling Halloween costumes and props while trying to compete with retail giants like Walmart and Target, 24-year-old Zachary Gosciminski has learned to think outside the box.

For his four-year-old company, Creepy Twists Productions, Gosciminski creates props and purchases other products at wholesale — keeping track of the season’s trends and making sure not to invest in anything that will be sold at big box stores for close to nothing.

While the company is based in Granby, most of its work is done at a space at an Indian Orchard mill building. That’s where Gosciminski makes his popular Halloween props — think bloody torsos, a brain on a silver serving plate, a faux axe and other creepy items that rotate from year to year — and sell costumes, accessories such as DVDs, skeletons, masks, decorations and more.

Rather than compete against discount Halloween shops and big box giants, Creepy Twists Productions focuses its sales online, and at eBay in particular. That’s where 70 percent of the company’s sales are made, Gosciminski said. Overall, Gosciminski said his one-man business took in $116,000 last year. 

Creepy Twists has had such success on eBay that the giant online marketplace has named the company as one of three finalists for its Shine Awards for Small Business in the Young Entrepreneur category.

Gosciminski is going up against Ciara Brown, a San Diego woman who started a clothing business called “Diamond Hanger” out of her college dorm room, and Nicolaus Wolfrum, of Gill, Colorado, who started selling products on eBay from his father’s automotive shop, Jim’s Automotive Machine Shop, Inc.

So far, Gosciminski has earned a free trip to Las Vegas this month where the winners will be announced. If he wins in his category, he earns $5,000 in cash and a one-year “Anchor Storefront” subscription. That means eBay will take less fees on sales made, and will funnel his company’s name to the top of its search engine when a user searches for one of its products.

In addition to individual categories, eBay will also announced a grand prize winner out of the overall 15 finalists. That award comes with $10,000.

Creativity rules

When it comes to the success of his online business, Gosciminski gets creative.

Last year, he sold 1,000 “Big Bad Baseball Bats” props inspired by a villain in the AMC series “The Walking Dead.” The baseball bat is wrapped in hyper-realistic fake barbed wire and comes in different versions such as “clean” or splattered with blood and bits of hair, making it appear it was used for bashing in skulls.

Gosciminski said he spent some nights with little sleep — taking a nap in his break room as paint dried on the bats and waking up to find about 10 more orders, so he’d have to start the process over again.

The bat was the company’s largest sale and made its way into the hands of people in Ireland, Australia and Sweden. And it is still a top seller.

A new piece this year is the Hash Slinging Slasher spatula from the Nickelodeon cartoon “Spongebob Squarepants,” which has blood splatter and fishing net wrapped around the handle. He made a few just for fun and will make more if they are popular.

Other custom products include a brain on a silver serving plate he calls “Food for Thought” and a faux axe with blood splatter he call’s “Lizzie’s Forty Whacks Axe.”

Many of Gosciminski’s other products are licensed by companies. He typically follows trends to see what will be popular. If a movie was a flop, products won’t sell. With the success of “Wonder Woman,” the hero’s costume products have been extremely popular, Gosciminski said.

Every January, Gosciminski attends the Halloween and Party Expo in New Orleans to look for inventory. But it’s a hard time for small entrepreneurs in the Halloween industry. Gosciminski said Walmart, Target and Spirit of Halloween buy many products for a cheap price and sell them for a bargain.

“You can’t compete,” he said. “They buy the stuff so cheap, they usually demand 36 percent less than wholesale — 36 percent less than what I’m paying.”

Over the years, he’s learned to recognize the representatives from the larger stores and tends to stay away.

A Halloween fan

Gosciminski has always been a fan of Halloween. For years, he would decorate his yard. In 2010, he and a friend worked for months to complete a haunted attraction on the property. They opened it six nights and about 800 people came through.

Gosciminski was also a fan of the show “Making Monsters” on the Travel Channel and decided to try making a creation himself. He molded a finger out of clay and then used plaster to create a mold. He filled the mold with latex, then painted the finished product. It sold on eBay for about $5.

He now uses the same technique for other products such as the “Dead Men Tell No Tales” torso which he sells for about $180. He’s even met the guys from the TV show at the Halloween expo who have gave him more tips, he said.

Gosciminski graduated from Granby Junior Senior High School in 2011 and started making fingers, noses and ears in the basement of his family home. He started working with Halloween Alyssum, which is now closed, which showed him the ropes in the industry. In 2013, Creepy Twists Productions became an official business.

Gosciminski has learned the busy seasons. August is when many of the so-called “haunters” get their props for scare houses and yard decor. That’s when many of his props such as bloody torsos sell the most.

The month of October is slammed with people purchasing costume supplies up until about a week or two before Halloween. Gosminiski said last-minute shoppers typically don’t try to squeeze in a shipment before the holiday.

“In October, it will be overflowing with stuff,” Gosciminski said of his warehouse. “Then it rushes out the door.”

To vote for Gosciminski in the eBay competition, visit https://ebay.promotionexpert.com/smbofyear/index.html.

Voting continues through Friday.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.