Tuesday, October 23, 2012
By Ashleigh Ruhl
The Gazettes Newspapers
Even if there’s no change in the weather, one look in a decorated thrift store window will tell you that October has arrived.
At the AIDS Assistance Thrift Store on Fourth Street’s Retro Row, outreach coordinator Paul Brindley said business is at least three to four times greater in October than in other months.
The store, which clears out all other inventory to make way for costumes and high quality vintage items every October, hosts an annual Halloween celebration and is open seven days a week all month.
“We pull items aside all year for this sale,” Brindley said. “And it pays off. This is a really, really important month for us because the money we raise helps folks who are living with HIV and AIDS in the community.”
Proceeds from sales at the store at 2011 E. Fourth St. are used by the nonprofit AIDS Assistance Foundation.
In Belmont Shore, Buffalo Exchange is a business that buys, sells and trades vintage, new and used clothing as well as pre-packaged Halloween costumes.
Amy Teran, store manager, said the store is offering a special $10 discount on purchases of $50 or more to any customers who come to the store dressed as a zombie celebrity.
She added that the store is a great place to find affordable, one-of-a-kind costumes that will stand out at any Halloween party.
“We are a great location for costume accessories because we get new pieces and unique stuff throughout the year,” Teran said. “And, for the new costumes, we do a minimal markup compared to other stores.”
Buffalo Exchange is a sponsor for the upcoming Zombie Walk in Shoreline Village, so Teran said she anticipates that many customers this year will be interested in buying items that can be torn up and covered in blood-red paint. The store also will participate in Belmont Shore’s Trick-or-Treat event for children on Halloween.
She added that Halloween is becoming a holiday that adults can celebrate as much as the younger generations, and she said more and more men are dressing up for Halloween than she has seen in the past.
“This year, we are definitely noticing an increase in males shopping with us, which is nice to see,” she said. “We are selling more scary costumes this year, our banana costumes have sold out and celebrity costumes are pretty common.”
Halloween costume shoppers at Out of the Closet Thrift Store (3500 E. PCH) can purchase pre-packaged costumes or go green by putting something used to good use. Out of the Closet has become known in the Long Beach community for its loud window displays during the Halloween season, which include several costume displays set up as vignettes.
“We do the windows up real big and showy, but not blood-curdling,” store manager Matt Ganoe said last year. “We want to show people what they can do with a costume. We bust our humps trying to get them just right and get them fresh and interesting to people.”
Halloween is the busiest time of year for Out of the Closet, where 96¢ of every dollar benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Ganoe said the store needs twice as much staff and volunteers to keep up with the number of customers needing assistance.
“We get so busy we all just want to cry,” he said. “Business at least triples.”
In the window of one of Goodwill’s four Long Beach locations, there are mannequins dressed as cowboys, Indians, car wash employees and more. Richard Guiss, director of public relations and development for Goodwill, Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County, said thrift stores are the perfect place to shop for a one-of-a-kind, out-of-the-box costume with a low price tag.
“We want people to think Halloween, think Goodwill,” he said, adding that store sales, on average, are 10% to 15% higher in October than other months in the year; costumes are available for children starting at $3 and for adults starting at $5.
“I believe people are just as cost-conscious and budget-conscious today as they were when the economic recession began,” he added. “People are looking to stay within a budget… We tell folks, get your costume for Halloween and donate it back after the season.”
Besides the cost-savings, Guiss said proceeds from items sold at the stores help a good cause, contributing to Goodwill’s job training and career service programs.