“I fell in love. I knew. I’m at home!”
For ScareHouse store manager Ashley Vattimo, her experience with the haunt is a love story.
“I decided to go on an interview back in 2016, a leap of faith, and it was just right,” says Vattimo. “It was immediate. I fell in love. I knew. I’m at home. Hire me!”
Vattimo was drawn to the role as a way to support both her daughter and her family.
“My daughter has special needs, so I had quit working for the state to be a stay-at-home mom. I needed a nighttime, seasonal job, because I couldn’t really stay in one location because she constantly needs me.”
So ScareHouse became the perfect fit, with Vattimo at first working the “merch shack” back at the original Etna location before moving into the store manager position at the new Pittsburgh Mills location. When you go to ScareHouse, she’s frequently the first person you see before you enter and the last person you see when you leave.
“Now you can see today at the Mall, it’s, like, the biggest, giant stuff—the store is huge compared to the merch shack in Etna. We did a huge 180 change when we moved to the mall.”
It can be a little jarring when you come into the Pittsburgh Mills Mall, as there are lots of empty storefronts and the food court is currently blocked off with yellow tape. But Vattimo thinks that just adds to the mystique of ScareHouse.
“I find it very apocalyptic. When you walk in here—and to see a mall food court the way that this is—it almost feels like this isn’t real; it feels like a movie set. You don’t feel like you’re coming into any type of normal mall.”
In addition to the perfect scary setting, the Pittsburgh Mills location includes two new perks that the Etna location lacked.
“The scene is very different from what we’re used to. You don’t have to wait outside [in line]. Rain or shine—we’re great. We also have convenient parking now. We used to have the shuttle bus from the zoo.”
But don’t ask Vattimo to go into ScareHouse by herself.
“No, thank you,” she says politely. “I don’t know what it is, but I can NOT handle it.”
That’s not where ScareHouse fans want her to be anyway. They’d rather chat with her about scary movies in line for the haunt or see her excitement when kids come dressed up in costumes for Halloween.
“Where I come from and having a special needs child, this is coming into bliss. As a mother, I walk in here and things just run like a well-oiled machine. It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s easy to come into and very relaxing. When I tell people that, they think I’m nuts. ‘They’re like, you go to work to relax?’ Yes, I do! You’d understand if you came here.”