Letter from America: Nine tips to grow your costume shop’s market

One thing I’ve learned in the nine years that I’ve been involved with the National Costumers Association is that the vast majority of shop owners are happy to help each other. They offer advice, freely provide training, and share good ideas.


In August the NCA celebrated its 100th birthday with a convention in Indianapolis. Part of the event was educational, and I picked up these nine tips on growing your market during the educational sessions:

1) Add goofy stuff to your product mix. Louella Torrence, retired owner of Drop Me a Line Costume Shop in Allentown, Pennsylvania, knew that customers could rarely resist adding some fun impulse items to their purchase. Among her favorites were the boxing nun toy, the Extenda-Fork, Hotlix candies with bugs in them, buttons, and any ‘over-the-hill’ items.

2) Ask schools who cleans their mascots. Nearly every school and college has a mascot, probably with one or two costumes, and they all need regular cleaning. Why not corner that business for your store? Cleaning mascots is not particularly difficult for a costume business which already cleans other garments, but it’s definitely a challenge for a school cheer coach or athletic director.

3) Get a booth at a street festival or community festival. Courtland Hickey, owner of Chicago Costume, says those types of events introduce his store to community-minded folks who may otherwise not shop with him. And the contacts he makes at these events sometimes lead to projects with corporations who need costumes for special events.

To read the rest of Ed’s tips, head over to the latest issue of Progressive Halloween.

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