No Disguising It, Costume Shop Hits Tough Times

Sluggish sales leave costume shops struggling

Not too many people think about costumes except for when October rolls around and they want to transform into Fred Flintstone, an Arabian princess or a vampire. 

However, most of the time, these shops serve the community by providing costumes for school plays and by renting the giant Easter bunny costume to the neighborhood dad who wears one every year.
The Costume Bazaar, on State Street in New Haven, has been providing costumes for the area for 45 years but they are more concerned about how to stay afloat than about the newest Halloween trend.
“We’re desperate,” Jeff Russell, co-owner of the store, told the New Haven Register. “In the 45 years we’ve been in business, we have never encountered such economic despair.”
Since Jan. 1, his business has been down more than 70 percent, he told the newspaper.
In years past, the Bazaar has handled 35 to 37 school theater productions at local high schools and community theaters, where each of them spend about $4,000 to $5,000.
However this year, Russell told the Register, they did just 11. The biggest production had a budget of only $500 for costumes.
He fears that schools might have cut a lot of money for plays with their budget crunches.

Ricard’s company does more than just costumes though, and he feels that that is what has helped him.
“We’re diverse … If one (part of the company) slows down, the other parts can make up for it.”

In addition to regular business being down, the Bazaar has had to begin competing with temporary Halloween stores. 
“Last fall, there were 19 temporary stores within seven miles of us. There’s only so much of the pie,” Russell told the Register. “If nothing changes, we’ll probably have to liquidate by the first of the year.”
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