Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Costuming a Costume Shop

I tell stories. I sell fireworks. I dance as a mascot. I entertain while being painted on. I write. I make and sell jewelry. I paint. I teach archery. I throw axes and knives. I jump at every new opportunity to gain or practice skills I learn.

The opportunity arose to run the Costume Shop for a Halloween Event. I tell horror stories and dark fantasy tales. I love entertaining but sometimes, an opportunity offers you a sideways path. I will have time to work on my podcasts and edit stories for publication through Kindle and Amazon later this year- in time for Halloween.

For now. Setting up a Costume shop to sell costumes every friday and saturday until Halloween. We reached Muskogee and headed to the faire site. The Costume Shop was empty and full of dust. Matt, Omar and I spent two days putting up pegboards and determining the structural backbone of the shop. Where would the registers go? How many workers? Where and how to display costumes, masks, accessories, make up and the many things that make a shop successful?
And what ideas for marketing and enhancing awareness of deals and location? What new products can we add to meet the needs and interests of our patrons? How to find out?
What do we already have to work with?
Mind you, once this shop is set up there is still the Mask Shop, LED light up shop, Halloween Shop, and the Gift Shop to clean, set up, order items and set up displays. One thing at a time. Omar has the lion's share on his shoulders from hiring employees to working with them on displays and ordering. I will be doing a lot of support in set up, cleaning, and helping new workers learn how to be effective at sales without being overbearing. Subtle. Supportive. Listening. Educating. Brainstorming. I am the Straw Boss, or since it is Halloween time I suppose I am the Scarecrow.

One task at a time. The three of us walked down the center of the long, dark warehouse full of cardboard boxed dreams made real. Silly bits and pieces of fantasy that have been waiting on a shelf for someone to cry out "That IS just what I wanted!" Where to start? The rows of wigs? The prosthetic wounds? Several latex masks leered at us, daring us to try to pick a single place to start from.

We started with the pegboards. We set dowel spikes into framework around the displays to spike the heads of our styrofoam enemies, their blank stares waiting apathetic to the different wigs and masks we placed on them. Since we started with the spikes and heads, like the most enthusiastic warlords in history, we started with facial hair and wigs. Vlad the Impaler had a beard. Also, the area for the wigs and masks was at the farthest left hand corner of the shop. Men's wigs were sorted from Women's wigs. They were all sorted by type and each package was dusted and placed like a stocking at Christmas in the hopes that the patrons eyes will sparkle and dance when they find them. Glow in the dark wigs. Curly wigs. Red spiral wigs. Clown wigs. Mullets. Santa and Jesus watched from their packaging as I put a saloon girl wig on the peg next to them. Vampire women's wigs dark with mystery contrasted with the purple go go wigs and bright pink long curly wigs below. Fantasy. Horror. Blonde. Red hair. Brown hair. Streaked. Striped. Tipped. Lovely. Wild. Short. Long. Super long. Accessories for wigs and hair were next. Mustaches from the Walrus to the Handlebar, pirate to 70's dude and beards galore were sorted and arranged.
Latex masks of monsters mixed with old geezers and Angry Birds. Sorting was a constant task. Was there a matching moving jaw for that werewolf mask? Should we hang the clowns and werewolves together? Do the Deep Ones deserve their own peg or should they share with the rotting blue monsters? The detailed, high end Don Post masks were debated. Should they get their own area or should they mix in and bring the whole place to a scarier level?
Boxes emptied. We kept running back for one more box of this or that, only to return with another three or four pallets full of boxes to sort, dust and add to the displays.
Children and Tween costumes and accessories were next. Tween is a term for in-between girls. There are no goods for Tween boys, but we groaned and sorted the teal, pink, skulls all with black into a respectable display for the girls who are dying to be part of Fiend High or Hello Goth Kitty.
Baby peanut costumes went next to Baby Scrawny Lions and little Monkeys. Magicians, soldiers, fairies, mermaids, princesses, doctors, vampires, witches, zombies, cowboys and various other possible choices went up as we worked our way toward the center of the shop.
Where should we put the capes and robes? The Inflatable costumes? Should LED capes and costumes have their own area? Which adult costumes should face the infants and toddlers section?  Where do we want the hard mask display? Do I have room to do a Superhero display as we have the masks?
Do we have skin suits? Oh, here they are, buried under the fat suits, fake butts and boobs. Great, lets display them in the same area. How funny would it be to wear a skin suit with a fake set of boobs and a fake bottom? I may have to try that out one night. Which costumes do I want to use on displays facing the street? What do I want to set up and encourage patrons to take selfies with to tag themselves and their location on Facebook? Marketing is important and something fun to get a selfie with is a great way to motivate public free promotion. Thinking. Ideas flowing and moving projects forward one step at a time. Write them down for later, so I don't forget them.
What about a line of high quality make up? What about better hats? Steampunk? Plus Sizes? And I am burying the Indian Beauties in the Warehouse. Not displaying or selling them as I just don't agree with them existing. There are other costumes to put out that can take those spots. The creepy clown. The Mariachi Mamacita.
We decided the adult versions of whimsical kid's costumes would face the children's section while the racier Ring Mistress, Flappers, Pin Up Girls, Grecian Goddesses, and their Mobsters, seductive vampires and other costumes that made you think about hot dates or cold showers went in the center isle right up the middle. Facing the masks and wigs, across from the prosthetics and make up we decided to put up the horror masks, horror movie themed costumes, steampunk and victorian mixing with Wicked Wonderland and Wicked Neverland. Adding Wicked means the skirts are very short and the depicted women practically steam the packing with their honeyed gaze. Promising orgasms to those who don the dress. The Men's Wicked costumes are monstrous or bestial, exciting their date by the apparent danger in walking arm in arm with one of these villains.
I stared at the bucket of brooms and plastic pitchforks. Accessories. I kept worrying about finding leggings and gloves. Then we found the goldmine in the closest row of the warehouse. Crisscross, fishnet, thigh high, lace, colors to match the fantasy of choice. Fake eyelashes. Wings. Cat ears and mouse ears on models in corsets and panties. For a moment, I wondered if that was included then laughed at the obvious advertising hook. Buy the ears, be the vixen. Buy the ears because of the vixen. One size fits all. Gloves from the theatrical whites to long opera length black, even some with silver spiders dancing up and down the sleeves. Wings for children. Wings for babies. Costumes for dogs. Check.
What are we missing? We started perusing wholesale websites today. I started a list. Unicorn horns. Hats. Novel Knee Socks from zebra striped to heart covered, so you can wear your hearts around your ankles with your panties after a great halloween party. Goggles. Hologram eye monster masks. Zombie baby puppets. Airbrush make up sets and tools. Fake swords, bloody daggers, axes, chains, body parts, rats, spiders, ravens, shoulder parrots. Plus sized tights. Tutus. Adult reversible capes. More styrofoam heads for more masks to be out staring down patrons, searching for the perfect mind to stretch around, the personality that wants to borrow theirs for a while.
The counters got added. The fake wounds and the realization we need more. More fake gashes, hooked noses, high end costume contact lenses and vampire teeth. The glow in the dark ones are placed with the cheap vampire make up kit, next to the vampire wigs. Groupings bloomed as bits and pieces went up.
What do we do with all these 80s bangles and elastic Egyptian armbands? For now they sit reproachful on the floor watching as we add tables to put the clown hats, top hats, witches hats and whatever other hats we order on. The feather boas are carefree. Rainbow feathers dancing in the breeze watching as the displays come together and holes fill up with products.
I will have two people working with me, each at different ends of the store. Jessica, who is energetic and does amazing hair styles in her own business during the day. Jessica will be working with wigs, prosthetics, make up and fielding questions and sales on the left. My other helper is a sweet teenager who will be fielding childrens, tweens, and questions on the right. I will be stirring the pot, wandering the floor. Helping people put their concepts into costuming reality as a part of a three person team.