Polina Saran and Laura Miller

October 19, 2023

Arts and Culture

VIDEO: Horror shop owner brings dark arts to light

Meet the Denver entrepreneur who built a conglomerate from horror-themed products and events.

Polina Saran and Laura Miller

October 19, 2023

Emerald Boes reached a turning point in her life.

When she was a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, she lost her best friend and struggled to find her way back from the trauma. But one of her professors challenged her to create art from the darkness. Boes accepted the assignment, using photography as a medium to channel and interpret her grief, and the impact left an impression on her that would shape every aspect of her life.

Six years after graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from MSU Denver, Boes started Horrid Magazine as a space where artists like her could share works that focused on taboo topics that weren’t being addressed outside of the digital world. As Boes began to meet more and more dark artists in Denver, the magazine grew into a local shop, also called Horrid, where she sells horror-themed products, hosts events through Horrid Spirits and houses the coffee shop Scream and Sugar.

“Horrid really is a multifunctional space,” Boes said. “We’re much more than just a horror shop. We also have a horror coffee shop and lounge. We also do all types of community events through Horrid Spirits. We definitely have a lot going on besides just the retail aspect.”

Emerald Boes, owner of HORRID brand, at her shop .Photo by Polina Saran
Boes’ shop Horrid, at Broadway and Acoma in Denver, contains products from popular horror films as well as handmade goods such as candles, incense and art from local artists. Photo by Polina Saran

Though Halloween is typically the busiest season for the shop and events, this past summer something happened that changed the business overnight. One of Boes’ TikTok posts went viral, reaching over 200,000 views. She received a flood of online orders and gained exposure to an audience that has continued to show its support.

“We went from still trying to get the word out to now having people from all over the country visiting the shop while they’re in town,” Boes said. “It’s been an amazing honor to have this new audience, and I’m just so happy that people are excited about what we’re doing.”

The shop, at Broadway and Acoma in Denver, contains products from popular horror films as well as handmade goods such as candles and incense, which Boes makes, and art from local artists. Boes said at least 75% of the items in her shop are local and handmade, and she strives to support women- and queer-owned businesses and rotates vendors to provide opportunities to the largest number of people.

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In addition to providing space where goth artists can thrive, Boes wanted to foster “community over competition,” she said, which is why the business continues to grow in new and exciting ways.

“I realized how important community is, especially when you feel like it’s hard to fit in,” Boes said. “So being able to foster this alternative dark-art and gothic industry is something that’s really integral to Horrid and who we are.”

Emerald Boes, owner of HORRID brand at her shop holds molded candles for Halloween season.
Boes holds molded candles available in her shop for the Halloween season. Photo by Polina Saran

With her business partner, Boes regularly hosts sold-out events that include book clubs, film screenings and pop-ups with vendors who offer flash tattoos, tooth gems, hair tinsel, photo sessions, horror-themed beer from sponsor Ratio Beer Works, coffee drinks from Scream and Sugar and so much more. On Oct. 24, Horrid will host its first horror-movie trivia night, an event that Boes hopes to offer regularly.

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For Boes, Horrid has always been about more than capitalizing on the shock value of the horror genre. She wants to change the conversation and stigma surrounding the community by bringing people together and giving exposure to art created from darkness.

Her success, which in a way grew from her own dark experiences, proves that people need and appreciate healthy ways of expressing themselves year-round, not just during the Halloween season.

“I think what’s so beautiful about the horror community is that it’s really about healing and this duality we have inside of us,” Boes said. “Because once you bring the darkness to light and talk about it, it’s so much more healing than just ignoring half of our identity.”

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