Lake Street Halloween (credit: CBS Local)

Even before the autumn leaves begin to drop in the San Francisco Bay Area, we can see that as the fog rolls out, the mood for Halloween rolls in. It’s not too early to pull out last year’s boxes from storage and see what else is needed for this year’s Halloween party decorations. There will be no party shortage, as a half moon hangs on 2014’s All Hallows’ Eve, which falls on a Friday night. You’ve got the apples for bobbing games or caramelizing on a stick. The pumpkins are just waiting to be carved and the horror movie selection has been made. Once the costumes are all sorted out, your to-do list of Halloween decorations needs attention, too. These Halloween enthusiast retailers are ready for you!

Halloween readiness in the Bay Area (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Sparky’s Balloons / Sparky’s Fun and Joy
115 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 236-3858

Kid alert! Sparky’s Balloons has grown into its new store location with a new name (Sparky’s Fun and Joy), filling 2,000 square feet with balloons, parties, toys and holiday decorations. Shoppers can find 12-foot themed garlands of pumpkin faces, skull heads or spiders for indoor or outdoor use, LED lights, hanging ghouls and ghosts for the front door and yard decorations to try and scare the living daylights out of trick or treaters. If you’re planning to cover your front hedges in spiderwebs, consider it done.

Cliff’s Variety
479 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431-5365

Halloween is huge at Cliff’s, who has clocked in more than “75 Years of Having It.” Store manager Terry says, “We’ve got the whole deal. Totally gross, gruesome and awesome.” Sure, Halloween-themed plates and napkins are in-store, but there’s more. Depending on how strong of a stomach one has for such things, a Halloween party table can be decorated with lifelike rubber rats, dead cats and even body parts. Hanging cutouts of witches, ghosts, skeletons and skulls will certainly look cool with a chandelier covered in cobwebs. The inventory is flushed out with costumes and accessories galore for a one-stop Halloween shop.

Affordable Treasures
15795 Los Gatos Blvd.
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 356-3101

When you see 20-foot goblins hanging from the rafters outside of a store, it’s a good indication that you’ve located spooky central. “People start coming in early to find out what awesome new stuff we have in for Halloween,” says Sabrina, who does the trade show circuit with the store owners months in advance. If you require a hand-painted skeleton staked out on your lawn, a row of zombies, flying bats, a graveyard of tombstones or an animated talking witch with light-up eyes, you’re all set. Bestsellers include spiderwebs, life-size skeletons and and big, furry flexible spiders. Super non-scary, age-appropriate items for little ones are here as well.

Anticipating the trick-or-treaters, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Party Plus
1629 San Pablo Ave.
West Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 525-1799

Balloons are among the party specialties at this family-run store in business since 1985. Since there’s no party without balloons, owner Michele can describe more than 30 different options for Halloween, including latex with ghost and black cat prints and mylar options from 18 inches and up. Choose orange with black polka dots or black with orange polka dots to go with the streamers, banners, confetti, cobwebs and tombstones Party Plus has on hand for your best-decorated Halloween party ever. Costumes, makeup and plenty of fake blood are all in-store, too.

Halloween props include frightful front yard scenes, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Hassett Hardware
875 Alma St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 327-7222

“We like Halloween here,” they say. Hassett Hardware handles all things Halloween at all four locations of this third-generation family business. You’re well covered for creepy options in Willow Glen, San Mateo and Half Moon Bay (naturally) under the glow harvest moon. String up some orange and deep purple lights (purple is as close as manufacturers can come to black). Stop in to check out how your glow-in-the-dark purchases will look under black light. We hear that last year’s Willow Glen haunted house in-store event was a smash.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on