New Bedford Horror Store Expanding and Welcoming an Icon
NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Like something out of a movie, New Bedford’s first and only store dedicated to horror merchandise and apparel has come alive and is growing faster than the Blob or Audrey II.
The Horror Family is the downtown’s own little shop of horrors, with movie memorabilia, action figures, Funko figurines, t-shirts and so much more, all focusing on a genre that has diehard fans that want to scoop up any collectibles they can of their favorite movie monster or horror icon. The focus is on family-friendly fun as opposed to frights.
Owner Matt Bessette opened the store last August at 9 South Sixth Street in the office space behind his gym, Mass Training Studio, which he had been operating since 2021. The store has been so successful in its early days that Bessette recently began selling off all of his gym equipment, and plans on utilizing that space for an expansion of The Horror Family.
“I’ve been looking at April 1 to open the expanded version of the store, and we’re already ahead of schedule,” he said.
A Horror Legend Is Coming to New Bedford
More space will mean more horror-related items for sale, and more memorabilia that Bessette can display. He also plans on doing a lot of in-store appearances with horror icons – including his very first one this Saturday, February 10, when Butch Patrick – best known as TV’s Eddie Munster on the classic sitcom The Munsters – will be at the store to sign autographs and take photos with fans from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“I hear he’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to having him here,” Bessette said. “I’m very excited for this year, to be able to bring down more celebs.”
Bessette was able to order some special Munsters shirts and pins to sell, and Patrick will have his own merchandise and photos for sale.
“It’s a great opportunity to create some excitement and let people know the shop is here,” Bessette said.
A Window Into Horror
When Bessette opened up The Horror Family a few months ago, he had the building’s exterior windows painted black and then adorned with horror characters to help increase visibility for his new venture.
“There’s no signs on the outside of the building,” he said, noting that signage is something he’s working on. “How are we going to get traffic to know we’re here? We’re going to have to use the windows. So I started looking at window ideas.”
He said he got the idea for painting the windows black from Nightmare Toys in Las Vegas.
“They have the same setup, and with the blacked-out background, the colors of the characters really popped,” he said.
Bessette hired a local artist to paint horror characters on the windows like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, killer doll Chucky, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Ghostface, Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and horror’s newest icon, Art the Clown from the Terrifier films.
However, about three months after opening, he found out from the City that he needed to change up the windows to be in compliance.
According to Chapter 9, Section 1200 of the City’s Ordinance Code, painted windows on businesses must follow the following guidelines: “temporary displays inside windows, covering not more than thirty (30) percent of window area, illuminated by building illumination only.”
“It’s unfortunate. I spent good money on the windows,” Bessette said. “But I don’t want to go back and forth with the City, I want to do what’s right, and at the end of the day, that’s the rule.”
Bessette then paid someone to come in and scrape all the black paint from around the characters, allowing passersby to now see inside the store.
“It looks like the black was never there in the first place, and it’s good to have daylight coming in the windows,” Bessette said.
“People can peek in and see what the shop looks like, and I’m here all day, so it’s good to have some sunlight coming in," he said. "I was skeptical, but now that it’s done, I prefer it this way.”
In addition, Bessette took the extra step of having the second artist remove all the weapons from the characters’ hands, such as Freddy’s razor-fingered glove and Jason’s machete.
“I thought it was better for the area to take those out as well,” he said.
What’s Next for The Horror Family?
In addition to expanding to include more merchandise and in-store appearances, Bessette also wants to get a podcast going, and have more in-store giveaways and raffles in addition to movie nights and board game nights.
“With the extra space, the options are endless,” he said.
He said the best part of opening The Horror Family has been meeting the people who travel from all over to come and visit.
“There’s a couple that’s traveled two hours to come. I’m meeting so many great people from places like Providence, Cranston,” Bessette said. “It feels like every weekend, a good 50 percent of the people coming into the shop are traveling here, and once the shop expands, there will be even more for them here.”
And there’s nothing scary about that.
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