Halloween is just around the corner ... and the mad dash to devise a clever costume begins! Honestly, I don't have fond memories of Halloween. I either got the embarrassing homemade ensemble (that didn't look anything like what I was hoping for) or the "crackling" plastic costume and mask (with the elastic that ALWAYS broke) that woke up the entire neighbourhood when I walked down the street and knocked on doors begging for chocolate. Whenever they put treats in my pillowcase I swear they gave me extra because they felt sorry for me and my pathetic costume. Regardless, I got MORE candy!
As an adult, Halloween is a totally different ball game. It's not about being popular ... it's about being inventive and unique. Much like a red carpet disaster where two women show up wearing the exact same couture dress, the same thing can happen at any big Halloween party ... and it can be devastating! Halloween, for most of us, is the one day of the year that we get to "dress to impress". We get to reinvent ourselves for one day, have a little fun, and enjoy it with our friends.
As much fun as Halloween can be, I typically dread having to settle for yet another disappointing costume. Then, Coleman Smith, my acupuncturist, recently told me about his experience at the Costume Shoppe. He was thoroughly impressed with his experience and raved about them. Curious, yet skeptical, I decided to venture north on Blackfoot Trail, five minutes past the Calgary Farmers' Market to see what they could do to help me out!
Four Decades of Playing Dress Up
Although the Costume Shoppe first opened its doors 20 years ago, the history of making quality garments goes far beyond that. A local tuxedo rental shoppe and talented seamstress combined over 20 years of experience to start a business renting high quality, handmade costumes from a small location on Centre Street.
Since then families have been coming back to the Costume Shoppe for two decades, following them from their Centre Street location to Inglewood and (now) Blackfoot Trail. Although people first visit the shoppe for a costume they would be happy to wear, they always leave with much more than what's in the orange plastic bag!
Say "YES!" to the Costume
The minute you walk into the Costume Shoppe you know you're not in Kansas anymore! Aside from the aisles of well organized accessory collections and props, there are three floors of handmade, vintage and pre-packaged costumes available for sale or rent. On a Saturday, two weeks from Halloween, it was obvious this was their busy season as the place was buzzing with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. I was immediately greeted by one of many staff members (in a Dr. Seuss hat) who directed me to the costume selection area ... where the "magic" begins!
Unlike the Halloween section at Walmart, with a couple of aisles of costumes that have already been man-handled, opened up and stuffed back in the plastic bag, all costumes are kept safe and out of reach (to protect them from damage). A staff member helps you determine the right size, retrieves the costume and helps you coordinate accessories when you try the costumes on. You start off by looking through the well organized binders showcasing all the different costumes available. Once you find an option (or two) that you would like to try on a shoppe associate then retrieves your costume and sets you up in a changeroom. You then work with a costume "expert" who helps you find an option that fits properly and suits the persona you have in mind. They then provide recommendations for accessories and added "flair" to take your costume to the next level!
I appreciated the care and attention I got from everyone I spoke with and knew I was in good hands with bonafide "experts". If something didn't fit right, or wasn't quite what I was looking for, they always found another alternative that got me closer to the right ensemble. Once I got the costume narrowed down they then ran around the store to find me the right accessories to make it "my own". I honestly felt like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" where the shoppe associates were right there with more options and cooler things as time went on. The decision making process was tough but they made the whole process really FUN!
In speaking with Margot Loveseth, the Costume Shoppe's owner, the goal of the team is to "transmogrify" (defined as, "to transform, especially in a surprising or magical way") each person that walks in their doors. It's like their version of "Say YES! to the Dress" ... connecting people with the costume they can't leave the store without. And ... that's exactly what they did for me (and many other people searching for that special "something" to make this year's Halloween extra special)!
The Rules of Engagement
If you're like the majority of people buying (or making) a costume for Halloween at the last minute, I recommend the following to make the process a lot easier and less stressful:
- Visit the Costume Shoppe (or www.thecostumeshoppe.com).
- Research in advance to get an idea of what you would like to be for Halloween (otherwise you'll get lost in all the amazing options available at the store ... stay focused).
- Don't be in a rush to find a costume (the process is fun and you should enjoy it).
- Come with an open mind (the costume you leave with isn't always what you envisioned).
- Bring a friend (to help you with the decision process).
The Costume Shoppe isn't just open for Halloween. They are open year round and have thousands of costumes (including more than one hundred Santa suits for their next big holiday season and over 5,000 items through their online store) for sale or rent for any themed event, theatrical production or as costumes for young ones (constantly fueled by their imaginations).
If you're curious about the Costume Shoppe, you can check out the images on our social media using the icons at the top of the page.
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on October 19, 2015)