Renting halloween costumes in Old City

OLD CITY - October 23, 2012

They recommend renting something upscale, and hundreds do. We visited Pierre's Costumes in Old City, where they have thousands of costumes and a professional staff.

Most have a background in theater and can help you achieve a look no one will forget. General manager Jennifer Valosen knows fabric, makeup, accessories and more.

She and her staff custom-fit each customer, even at this busy time of year. With Halloween falling mid-week, it creates the possibility of parties the weekend before, the weekend after...or both. Most people spend between $75.00 and $200.00 for a rental of up to five days.

For an add-on fee of $20,00, you can keep the outfit of your choice for both weekends. How often you wear it is up to you. In a typical halloween season, Pierre's rents upwards of 500 costumes.

This year they expect to rent out more than 600. Pierre's has literally thousands to choose from, but two almost always sell out...a flapper for women and a pirate for men. If you need a wig, or makeup, or any accessory, it's probably in stock.

Even at the last minute, each client is custom-fitted, usually in minutes. Surprising in this election year, you won't find Presidential candidate masks available. Valosen says the parties made their nominations too late for masks to be mass-produced. So Uncle Sam is a popular alternative.

Only about one in four customers walks in dead-set on a particular look. The rest either come in with only a vague concept or none at all. But a few questions from the staff will send you on your way with something you like.

While the mid-Fall season is "rush hour" for Halloween, Pierre's is busy year-round. They've already been hard at work for weeks on Santa Claus suits they supply from coast to coast. Hardest to find wholesale...the boots, which they ended up having custom made.

The shop also does regular business with plays from neighborhood schools to main stages nationwide. They're also a regular resource for film studios and television production centers. They make sports mascot costumes, too.

Pierre's is located at 211 North 3rd Street in Old City Philadelphia, just south of the Ben Franklin Bridge. For information, phone 215-925-7121.

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