3:10 PM PDT, October 19, 2021
With a fervor not seen since The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, people are desperate to get their hands on a 12-foot high Halloween skeleton from Home Depot.
Folks are willing to drive hundreds of miles and shell out hundreds of dollars for a bag of bones called “Skelly” that debuted last year during the pandemic and quickly sold out. This year, the fever to own a plastic skeleton roughly the size of two stacked refrigerators has skyrocketed even higher.
Skeleton seekers have banded together in Facebook groups and elsewhere, sharing intelligence on where to find the coveted creatures. An underground scalper network has emerged, with eye-popping prices as high as $2,500 on eBay, and meetings arranged at discrete locations roughly akin to a drug buy.
All for a towering Halloween decoration to erect in your front yard or graveyard, as many as owners have used Skellys to transform their property into faux funeral sites with headstones reading “I told you I was sick.”
Britt Braithwaite lives outside Cleveland, Ohio. After missing the skeleton boat in last year’s decoration craze, she vowed to begin her bone search early in 2021. As in spring.
“This year I started buying decorations in May,” she told Inside Edition Digital. “Every single day I called every Home Depot within a 150-mile radius of our house.” She began to wear out her welcome.
“They were tired of hearing from me,” she said.
Come summer, she got a call from a Home Depot manager who surreptitiously phoned from the warehouse. He wasn’t supposed to do this, he said, but he wanted her to know that he had a Skelly in stock.
“I think I screamed in the guy’s ear,” she said. Though she had considered buying from a scalper at $200 above the retail price, she was able to buy one for the regular selling price of $299.
Which is not cheap, either. Braithwaite estimates she and her husband have spent more than $1,500 on Halloween decorations. “All the stuff that’s happened the last two years, it’s nothing but bad news,” she said. Coronavirus pandemic or no, she just wanted to create something that would bring fun and good-natured fright to her neighborhood.
“Our whole house is skeletons. They’re crawling up the side of our house. We have them playing Uno,” she said. “We’re going to keep them up until Christmas and change them into elves.” She has bought a Santa suit for Skelly.
Like Braithwaite, school teacher Matt Gregory belongs to a Skelly Facebook group with 36,000 members. His holy grail to find a skeleton took him to a scalper who was asking $900 for the plastic bare bones.
“I met up with a guy about 45 minutes from my house,” he said. Gregory was able to talk down the asking price.
“I ended up paying $400 for a $300 skeleton. After taxes, and if you have it shipped, $400 is about what you’d pay overall,” he said. So for Gregory, it was a win-win exchange.
Asked why people were going to such lengths to obtain a giant blueprint of the human body, Gregory said it’s a little like monkey see, monkey do.
“It’s the hype around it that makes people want it more.”
When Skelly went up for sale online this year, Home Depot sold out within minutes. And the race was on to nab the scarce, scary figures.
“People on the site drive four to five hours to get the thing, and then have to drive back,” Gregory said.
“There’s just something about the skeleton. This thing is lifelike. It can definitely be scary, but it’s flexible enough to make it look like he’s waving at a neighbor,” he said.
Gregory placed his next to his one-story house, to give the Skelly a sense of scale.
He also wants to keep it up long after Halloween, but his wife had something to say about that.
“My initial plan was to keep it up all year and dress it up for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. But my wife’s condition was that I could keep it up until my birthday.”
His birthday is in November. He plans to dress Skelly as a pilgrim or a turkey. He hasn’t decided which.
Meanwhile, he is happy with his mammoth lawn decoration. Like Braithwaite, he says it brings joy to the neighborhood, and provides a welcome respite from COVID-19 worries and life during pandemic times.
Even his second-grade students are enthralled with his skeleton. “We’re having a vote to name him. That’s a big thing, to name them.”