Halloween costumes big business

Sarah Grossman

Think spending more than $10 bucks on a Halloween costume is pricey? How about more than $100?

Halloween has become the second-biggest holiday seller for retail stores and getting dressed up isn't just child's play anymore.

People are also no longer satisfied with throwing sheets over their heads and grabbing a plastic bag before running out the door to nab treats.

“It is pretty much all pre-packaged these days,” said Kyle Kelly, the manager at Spirit Arnot Mall.

Shoppers often pick up a bag that contains a cloth outfit and an accessory or two. Some packages come with everything a person needs to go out and can cost well over $100.

Yet, for kids, the big items are still the classics.

Boys want to be pirates or ninjas and girls dig dressing like princesses, according to local store owners.

Nationally, the five best-selling costumes for kids are pirates, High School Musical, Harry Potter, fairy and princess, according to Yahoo! Shopping.

However, for teens and adults, things are getting a little steamier.

“What used to be traditional, like Snow White dresses, have gotten shorter,” said Nancy Hurley, an employee with The Costume Place in the Arnot Mall.

“The women definitely want something that looks good and shows off their bodies,” said RC Ike, owner of Party Time on Chambers Road near the mall.

Popular among the adult costumes are the couples' items, including Hugh Heffner and one of his Playboy bunnies.

“We have mustard and ketchup, old man and old lady,” Hurley said.

Adults are becoming big Halloween shoppers and the trend may be due to more house parties, Hurley said.

That is exactly why Dave Jones of Elmira was out Monday at the mall looking for a costume. The last time he bought a costume was 20 years ago, he said. Normally, he just hands out candy.

But this year Jones was invited to a party. He headed to the costume shop for ideas, he said. He wasn't sure what he wanted to go as, but was leaning toward a pirate or ninja.

Jackie Smith, 19, and her friends Francesca and Veronica Lentini, both 21, came to the store with a plan in mind.

The girls, from Elmira, plan to don '80s-style clothes and were on the lookout for leg warmers, shoulder-cut sweatshirts, and headbands.

Store owners said the big influx of shoppers will likely come this week as most of the parties and events will happen over the weekend. And while more adults getting into the spirit of the holiday means big money, it also means shops are trying to find ways to distinguish themselves.

“There is more competition this year,” Hurley said.