Monday, September 15, 2014

Why You Can't Find Frozen Costumes

Why you can't find Frozen Costumes

It's Economics 101.  Big chain stores kill the market for popular costumes.  Chain stores, like K-Mart, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Party City and others, have huge buying power because they buy thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of copies of the most popular costumes and send them across the country to all their locations.  They get the lowest possible price per unit and they get their shipments first.  So, by the time the costumes reach the independent retailer, the consumer base already has that low price point ingrained in their price conscious psyche.

According to Walmart, Inc., they have about 4,000 locations in the USA alone, plus abroad.  If you estimate that each store could sell at least 24 pieces of a hot movie costume, which I'm sure would be on the low end for most locations, that would be a minimum purchase of almost 100,000 units.  Now, let's count in all those other chain stores and pop up stores that also carry costumes.  The numbers start to become staggering, don't they?

A small, independent store like Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga could only hope to sell about 12 units of any one costume in a single season.  So, let's say that you are a manufacturer for the Disney Corporation and you make the costume for that hot movie of the year.  You have Walmart who is going to purchase costumes, quite literally by the boat load, and all you have to do is put the full containers on the dock.  Walmart will pick those containers up and put them on their own trucks and do all the distributing across the country.  Then you have all those other chain stores who will be doing pretty much the same thing, just on a slightly smaller scale.  Finally, you have thousands of little Mom & Pop stores all across the country who want 3 to 12 units each of a whole bunch of different costumes.  You will have to send one container of costumes to your own distribution center, have your people pull and pack all the orders and send them out via UPS to all those little shops.  Which customer is going to get the best price, biggest discounts and fastest service?  The guy who bought 100K each of each costume or the guy who bought 12 of each?

There is also one more little twist in the price wars for Halloween dollars.  Chain stores like Walmart and Party City want to get the customer in the door to buy other items.  They can sell a popular costume very close to their cost, which was much lower than Mom & Pop's cost, to persuade people to buy other things while they are there.  It's called a "Loss Leader".  The store intentionally sells the costume for less than it paid, but they have very high mark ups on candy, party supplies, decorations, accessories, etc.  They take a loss on the costume, knowing it will bring you into the store, and then make up for it with higher markup items like the candy and decorations.

Now you are the parent who's daughter is crying for a Frozen Elsa or a son who just discovered Ninja Turtles decades after you thought that was over.  You only have limited resources of your own so you're going to look for the best price on what your children want.  Slick ads are all over the TV and in the mail touting "Costumes starting at $9.95!"  They show you pictures of sparkling Elsa and muscled Heroes with full masks, but when you arrive at the store, those costumes are actually priced $25 to $30 and you pick up the phone to try to find it at a better cost.  That's normal!  It's what parents DO.

Then you, the parent, call an independent costume shop.  We don't have that one costume, the shipment hasn't come in yet.  We have tons of other items, that are NOT at those chain stores, but still, you think "They don't have THAT?  Gees!  They don't have ANYTHING!"  Or worse, when you call, we do have what you want, but the price is much higher than at the chain store.  You think "Holy Cow!  They sure are expensive!"  Either way, you vow to never darken the door of a small business.  Sadly, you'll never know that Mom & Pop stores like Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga have tons of other items that are frequently priced within a dollar or two of the chain stores, or even LOWER on many accessories.

So what is the moral of the story?  If you think your child MIGHT want one of the 12 most popular costumes of the season, JUMP ON IT at the chain store during the Halloween season because after November 1st, those costumes will not be available for your birthday party, trip to Disney World or school function.  Those pop up stores will be gone.  The department stores will cut back to only toddler sized princess dresses in the toy department.  Real costume shops who are open for you all year long won't have them because our wholesale prices are to close to the chain store retail price.

In 2002, when Tobey Maguire played Spiderman in the block buster movie, the wholesale price directly from Disguise, Inc. was $13.50 per unit.  The exact same costume was at Walmart for $9.95.  When the buyer for Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga called her sales representative to complain, she was told, quote:  "I suggest that you go to Walmart and buy all they have.  Then the customers will have to come to you."  We didn't do that.

The wholesale price of a child sized Elsa Costume to an independent store is over $20.   Beauty and the Beast Costumes has canceled our orders.  We are sorry for the inconvenience to our customers, but we can not sell at cost.

If you and your children do NOT want to wear the same costume that everyone else on the block is wearing, please check us out.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the vast amount of costumes and accessories that we stock and thrilled with our low prices on make up, wigs, hats, toy weapons and other accessories.

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