By ROB JONAS
Halloween is to The Costumer what Christmas is to other retail stores. But, Halloween does not define The Costumer.
The century old business, with locations in Colonie and Schenectady, is the nation’s leading source for providing costumes to scholastic theatre productions.
“During the 1970’s, ownership recognized an under-served niche for costuming high school plays,” said current owner Bonnie Johnsen. “The costumes are designed and constructed at our Schenectady location, with a primary focus on scholastic theatre.”
The Costumer has grown significantly from its humble beginnings in 1917. It started as a small costume shop in Schenectady by Anna White. She began the business by trading costumes for her daughter’s dance lessons. The Johnsens are the fourth owners of this unique 103 year old business.
The Costumer has transformed to a business that costumes over 1,000 shows annually across the country. In addition to scholastic theatre, The Costumer’s creations can be seen on TV, commercials and movies. The Schenectady location is home to 160,000 costumes, as well as a year round retail shop. The Costumer Superstore is located at 1995 Central Ave. in Colonie.
Halloween is the most popular time of year for The Costumer’s retail business, as people of all ages seek the right outfit for trick or treating and parties associated with the season.
“As a locally owned and year round business, we set ourselves apart from the competition with our outstanding customer service,” said Johnsen. “Our staff will work with you to find the right costume regardless of your budget. Customers can choose from a vast selection of packaged costumes, or work with our staff to assemble and accessorize their own unique vision. We are the only place in the Capital Region where you can walk in and rent from a vast inventory of unique costumes. Make up, wigs and props are all available to complete the customer’s vision.”
To prepare for the Halloween season, staff from The Costumer travels to an annual Halloween expo to learn about the upcoming year and discover inventory trends which help guide them. “Toy Story, Superheroes and Video Games (Mario, Luigi, Master Chief) are going to be popular with the kids this year,” said Johnsen.
The Costumer’s two retail locations, 1995 Central Avenue, Colonie and 1020-1030 Barrett Street are open seven days a week during the month of October with extended hours. For more information, call the Colonie store at 518-464-9031 or the Schenectady store at 518-374-7442. Additional information regarding store hours can be found on The Costumer’s website, thecostumer.com.