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Costume shops keep busy

Zenner agreed that those seasons are particularly busy, with The Costumer typically renting out about 150 Santa suits and 100 bunny suits.

Zenner said renting is a huge part of his business, and that The Costumer rents to adults and children. Halloween Hall only rents to adults.

Renting costumes can become a form of repeat business for the shops as well. Zenner said many "Santas" who are pleased with the suits they rented one year will reserve the same costume for the following year -- up to a year in advance.

Both costume shop owners said that other big-business times for them occur around the Fourth of July, when parades are common, and holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, when many like to dress up as leprechauns.

"We get a lot of business from school-aged children," said Myers, who said that many schools require students to dress up as past presidents while presenting a report they had written.

"Quite often we bail out frantic parents when their kid has to look like George Washington," she said.

The slowest time of year for the costume shops is the summer, when holidays are scarce and reasons to put on extra clothing, let alone costumes, are few and far between. But summer is also the time when many costume shop owners get their inspiration for what costumes to order for the upcoming Halloween.

Myers said, this year she was expecting the Joker, from "Batman: The Dark Knight," to be a very popular costume.

"Had Halloween been in June, you wouldn't be able to keep them on the shelf," she said.

But, according to Myers, by the time Halloween does roll around people are more interested in dressing up as the characters that they have seen on the big screen most recently.

Popular in both stores this year are Star Wars character costumes, which came as a surprise to both owners.

Another costume niche that is growing in popularity, according to Zenner, is pet costumes.

"You see a lot of people getting a Darth Vader costume for their dog, or a superhero," he said.

And, as seen in every election year, Myers said, this year, many trick-or-treaters will be wearing masks of the faces of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. When asked which mask was selling more, Myers said, "I'm not going to say. You'll have to see in November."

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