Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Transition Week

Most pop up 'Costume Shops' leave town right after Halloween. Chain stores pull everything thing down over night and spread Christmas out over that 'Seasonal' area.   Both put their employees to work marking down the damaged items and things that will be discontinued by the chain, then pack up all the rest and send it back to their ware house.   

At Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga - We do LAUNDRY!   It's kind of one of those things that people don't think about.  When you send out over a hundred costumes for rental, all those things come back dirty and have to be cleaned. 

So how does that happen?  First, we sort all the items into the 4 dressing rooms.  Fur suits in one, then Colored, Black & White into the other three... and we start running the washing machine.  We hang all the clean clothes on the rods as we put costumes with multiple pieces back together or just try to find places to move the back out to the rental racks.

Mascot heads and unsorted laundry 'hide' in the clearance area until the coat hangers can be removed and the clothes sorted into the correct piles.  The heads have to be checked over, repaired if necessary, spot cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant before their next trip out.

The large rolling rack of Santa Hair & accessories comes out of the back room.  This is much more difficult than it sounds.  The rack is stored in the very backity back of the store house.  A path has to be cleared through all the piled up boxes, empty and partially full, that collected since the prior Christmas and were jumbled in the rush of Halloween.

And then there is the issue that Beauty and the Beast sells and rents the same stock of costumes all year long, so there is no joy of just pulling it down and packing it in boxes, it has to move to a different part of the store to make room for Santa and his friends.  This means the costumes off the two front racks have to be squeezed into the back racks, or carried upstairs, or to the back room where we can (hopefully) find them for customers who always seem to want something right after it was packed away.

All the Christmas Costumes have to be carried down from the attic and hung up.  It's always rather funny to people to see the jolly red and white costumes on racks under left over Halloween displays.  All the masquerade masks barely seen on the left edge of the photo above had to be pulled down and moved to the other side of the room.  The peg board that was covered in Halloween masks and accessories had to be cleared off and the most popular masquerade masks took their place.  All the packaged Santa Suits, Mrs. Claus, Elf, Gingerbread man & Snowman costumes that we sell went up on the larger wall vacated by masks. 

The entire store has to transform from Halloween to Christmas in  one week with all the work done by just one employee.  Plus, she was doing laundry!  Hard work does pay off, we've already sold our first two Santa suits of the year and sold several Masquerade masks and costumes for two big parties held the first weekend of November.  We're just not through changing all the mannequins' clothes,  and decorating.  Give us a minute.  It's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

No Custom Orders

In a discussion on social media with some friends who are expert seamstresses, we fell into a fairly normal topic of "Why we don't do Custom Order work."   The true answer is that most of us have had very bad experiences with people who don't understand that our time and labor aren't free.  The vast majority of people who want to have custom work done, will ask for a quote, and then change all of the parameters and expect the original price to remain constant. 

My most memorable example was a woman who needed a couple of southern belle dresses made to promote a business.  She explained that she would need the dresses to relatively comfortable and machine washable for multiple uses.  She pointed out one of my rather simple rental dresses, which is shown above but no longer in the regular rental line.  The customer asked how much would the labor cost be to make a dress like that one if she provided the materials.  I quoted about $100 - $150 figuring that I could make the dress in about a day and knowing that most people will bring yardage but no 'notions' like lining, interfacing, zipper, hooks or thread.  So I left myself some 'wiggle room' and knew she would be happier if the job came in under budget.

A few days later, she returned with a trash bag full of hastily folded yellow satin (which is NOT machine washable) a giant tangle of lace, loose silk flowers and random ribbons and other trims.  She proudly announced "Here you are!  And I even have the pattern."  She handed me the pattern shown below and wondered WHY I told her that it would cost at least three times more.  She had no concept that the job had suddenly become 10 time harder and that $300 or more on the labor would be a bargain.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween Stress

It's 6:45 am on Halloween day and I'm sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee hoping that we can make it through just one more day. 

I'm Susan, 'The one with a pony tail' who keeps roaming down the isles picking up things that have fallen off hangers or peg hooks or that have simply been left abandoned by customers who thought those items might be fun, but changed their minds.  I answer questions, dig through boxes to find things, make suggestions, find accessories, give directions to the bathroom.  I run to the stock rooms and come back with arms full of merchandise to try to fill up empty boxes or pegs, climb ladders to replace the masks that were sold.  I laugh and joke with many people, hug customers who have been shopping with us for so long that they became friends somewhere along the way.  I glance at my mother behind the counter and hope that she makes it through just one more day.

It's rough on me, all the running back and forth, climbing ladders, stepping over boxes in the stock room trying to find one more costume in the size a customer needs, hunting for 'please Lord just a little more white make up'.  Sometimes the answer is just "No, sorry.  We're sold out."  Sometimes it's a personal victory to find the item that will make the day of a bright eyed child, a hopeful teen or an older person who has never lost their version of Peter Pan's heart that will never grow up.  It's just as much fun for me as it is for them to find that perfect thing... almost as much disappointment when it's just to late.  My ankles feel like broken glass, my knees sometimes give way unexpectedly, my thighs burn and my mind reels at the expected pain of climbing those attic stairs again, but I'll make it through just one more day.

The customers come and go.  Most are happy and thrilled to be shopping for their favorite holiday and can't wait to get home with their newly found treasures.  Their joy is palatable and infectious to all around them.  I live for those people.  Many shop alone or in small groups, find what they want, pay for it and slip away without notice.  I do try to at least speak to each person and offer assistance.  Some wave me off like I'm an annoying sales call that rings the phone in the middle of their favorite show.  Most have a few questions which are easily answered and they are delighted to be aided on their quest.  Some just seem to be lonely and want someone to talk to for a little while, even if it's just crazy woman with a pony tail and an arm load of stock that needs to be put away.  Sometimes, those lonely people seem to need a smile from a stranger and maybe a pat on the arm or a quick little hug so they can make it through just one more day.

And then there are the few, the luckily far apart who seem hell bent on destroying the store and everything in it.  The 'brats' who don't seem to think that rules apply to them.  The tall young men who take down all the masks then half way put them back on the heads and randomly shove them back on the top shelf where I need to climb a ladder to straighten things back out.  The bored youngsters who play with the hats and drop them in the floor or try to put them back as they push full stacks of other hats off the other side of the shelf.  The people who pull everything out of the boxes and cram the packages roughly back in as if the plastic bags with bright photos have deliberately vexed them in some way.  The 'hard to fit' young women who feel compelled to try on every single costume in the store looking for one that will actually make them look like the Photoshopped model on the front.  The ones who bust seams or break zippers in the costumes, lose the accessories, tear the bags, wad up the photos in the front like yesterday's news paper.  I clinch my teeth and clean up their mess and try to find my 'zen' as I repeat in my head like mantra that I only have to make it through one more day.

Through it all, I'm the lucky one because I am on the move.  When someone really starts to get on my last nerve, I can walk away.  I can 'run after stock' in the cool, quiet back room and take a moment catch my breath and clear my head before going back out into the Bedlam.  I can find that ever present friendly customer who smiles and appreciates that someone is honestly trying to help them.  I can get my grove back by simply remembering that 99.9% of my customers are wonderful people and joy to work with.  I can shake it off and move on, happily working through that one more day.

My mother is not so lucky.  She 'celebrated' her 85th birthday standing behind a cash register for 10 straight hours with very few breaks to even eat or go to the bathroom.  It's been like that six days a week since the middle of October.  My mother, Mary is the accountant so she comes in early to count the drawer down, get it set up for the day, fill out all the forms and run the bank deposit down the street before the customers arrive.  Even the people who are nice to me as the sales person are rarely nice to the cashier.  After all, she's taking your money.  She's the one dealing with a slow credit card machine that takes forever to process checks and those cards with chips, the agitated and embarrassed customers who's card got declined, customers begging for discounts on items that are already marked down, customers who want to split methods of payment or change their minds in the middle of a transaction - or find One More Thing after she has already run the card.  All issues that are normally no big deal, but it starts to wear on anyone after a dozen times a day with irate, tired, busy people standing in line glaring at her.  She ends up being the default complaint department.  She's not a young woman anymore.  She has high blood pressure and diabetes.  She stoically tries to just handle each problem as it comes along, but it takes a toll.  If my soon to be 55 year old bones are hurting, I know hers with an extra 30 years on them have to be misery.  Sometimes, it just gets to be to much and she snaps at people a little to harshly.  Luckily, only one of those has lost her temper and found the need to track me down, get in my face and yell at ME that my mother snapped at her child.  It was all I could do to not go all "Mama Bear" on that woman at scream "I only pray that MY MOTHER will LIVE to make it through one more day."

This is not a happy blog post to celebrate Halloween.  It's just a therapeutic moment for me before I pull on my clothes and go back to work.  It's a story to explain that while I am the one who loved Halloween and playing dress up so much that I dreamed of running a costume shop.  My mother loved me enough to make it happen.  She pays the bills.  She keeps the doors open.  This was not her dream, it was mine, but she's there every day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  In October, she works more than 60 hours a week dealing with people who are frequently angry and unkind to her.  This is a gentle reminder to some that if I catch them being rude to my mother, they should feel lucky that I let them live through one more day.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Mannequin, New Photos

 Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga recently received three new "Unbreakable" plastic mannequins.  One is female, two are male.  Why should you care?  These are much lighter weight which makes them easier to move around and, as the name implies, they don't break.  The male mannequins also have arms that are just a little bit flexible, which is the really big news.  It is much easier to change the clothes on these mannequins than our older fiberglass styles which were heavy, inflexible and difficult to balance on their make shift stands.  Since we no longer have to worry with removing the arms to change the male's shirt, vest or jacket for photos, we can finally get around to photographing rental options that have never been seen on the web or in our rental book before.  It also means that we can update some of the very old photos that were taken under less than ideal conditions.

Keep an eye out for more "Villagers" and unusual male options in the coming weeks.  Using the new mannequin is allowing us to photograph even the kind of strange, whimsical items that we can put together for school plays that have always been difficult to describe... Like an enchanted carpet that can follow Beast around his castle or the March Hare to have tea with the Mad Hatter.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

New Shipment!

New Shipments are always fun!  They bring us new things and replace the favorites which have been sold out.  This week has been a little of both PLUS some new, freshly made costumes coming out of the back room.

Highly anticipated new rentals include a new Colonial Boy to join the Taft / Roosevelt suits which were finished up last month.  These are expected to do well for upcoming school projects.  As more and more schools are discovering the fun "Living Wax Museum" technique of studying American history, the demand is growing for better quality and more variation for male costume rentals.  Beauty and the Beast Costumes is stepping up to the plate to provide what our customers want.

 As many of our followers know, Mr. Mouse went for a walk on the wild side this spring and didn't find his way home again.  Miss Mouse has been quite lonely, but no more!  A new mouse is in the house and he's got longer, shiner fur than the last one.  We are sure he will be out on the town with Miss Mouse attending birthday parties and events as soon as people see his bright, fresh face.

Liquid Latex!  $18 a Quart

Many of our customers will be happy to know that the less expensive Liquid Latex is back in stock!  At $18 a quart, this is a favorite for Zombies and make up artists who like to make their own prosthetic appliances.   The quality is very close to that of the Merhon brand which sells for $27 a quart. 

Product is actually packaged in an easy pour bottle, however photos of that bottle are not currently available.
Hot new "Milady of the Castle" costume sells for $56  and looks fantastic!  Whether you are on your way to a Renaissance fair, convention, a party to find your Knight in Armor or just watching Game of Thrones - THIS is the dress you want to be wearing.  It's one of those you really do have to see in person to understand how exquisite it is.  The gold brocade in the center front is spun with golden metallic threads.  The pinkish trim on the collar and framing the golden panel is a delicate floral with sparkling magenta metallic motif.  Top it off with plush faux fur cuffs and you can't go wrong!  Available in adult sizes Small, Medium and Large.
Are you more of a horror fan than a princess?  The new Annebelle costume is the perfect Halloween outfit for you!  This long, shimmering costume satin dress is scaled to fit a man, but girls like it too!  At $47, it includes the mask and wig so there is no muss, no fuss getting dressed.  While there are plenty of creepy and broken dolls out there - NONE of them can compare to the original doll from hell... ANNEBELLE!

Not really in the mood to be a superhero?  Then be the ultimate villain in the new Ultron costume for $56.  It includes full body suit with padded accents and high quality, durable face mask.  It comes in Standard and XL so you can terrorize all the Avengers you see on the streets.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time Tripping, 1920's - 1980's

A couple of new pages are up on the Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga website.  We have just completed the "Buy Costumes - Adult USA Pop History" page.  So you are probably wondering what that means.  First, it means that B&B has WAY to many different styles of costumes to sell than will fit on one page.  Therefore, the "Buy Adult Sized Costumes" page has been split into multiple pages.  Each of the new sub category pages for Adult Sized Costumes will feature about 200 images.  This will make sorting them out a bit of an issue for me as the web-mistress, but I'm sure it will work itself out. 

The "USA Pop History" page features Popular costumed party themes from US History.  Also known as "Decade Days" for school spirit week and dances, these are costumes inspired by the 1920's through the 1980's.    While the Roaring 20's Flapper dresses are iconic for a short 10 year window, most of the fashions from the 1950's to the 1980's tend to blur over the edges of the decades.  Much like people today did not throw out all their clothes from 2009 on New Year's Eve 2010, there is a great deal of overlap from the Psychedelic 60's to the Disco dominated 70's and then from the 70's to the 80's.  When choosing a costume, never feel trapped into wearing only what someone else chooses to label as a given time period.  Always go with what you like and feel free to mix and match.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Disney Princesses, Oz and Star Wars

SIXTY new costume pics have just been added to the "Buy Costumes - Adult Media " page of the Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga website.  They are listed below the Super Hero section, all are labeled with their costume names, sizes available and current pricing. 

About 50 more photos of  movie and TV character costumes are ready to load this weekend. I will be taking a break this evening as Friday is family movie night.  Someone has to go see Fantastic 4! 

If you are curious about the next costumes to be uploaded in the next week, please check the Retail Costume List page.  It is also still incomplete, but it's growing by leaps and bounds.  That list represents 5/12 shelves of costumes which are in stock and available right now. 

Just keep checking back.  All the lists just keep growing!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Please pardon my mistake! 

Trying to differentiate between the costumes which are Rental and which are Retail becomes an issue on the web because the two words are very similar at a glance.   At the same time, if one refers to products FOR SALE, causal web surfers may believe they are ON SALE at reduced prices.  Therefore, the decision was made to use the terms BUY and RENT on new and revised pages.  

The newly created page to show all the adult sized retail costumes was listed as "Buy Adult Costumes".   Luckily, a friend pointed out the error and it has been changed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Super Heroes, Villains & Gamers

Super Hero mania has hit the Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga website!  SEVENTY EIGHT photos of adult sized costumes went up last night,  August 3, 2015 to kick off the Browse at Home, Come in to Buy phase of operations.  Our hopes are to get most, if not all, of our costume inventory on line to help busy customers shop from home or on the go in time for Halloween.  

Please bare with us as we work on getting the images arranged and properly labeled with names and prices in logical groupings.

Inventory Lists are also going up on the website with 2 purposes in mind.  First, is the Retail Costume List which helps the web builder find images for all of the costumes.  Secondly is the Accessory List to assist in the next phase of site reconstruction to suggest the most popular accessories to go with complete purchased or rented costumes, or to help customers design and create their own costumes.  Both of these lists, even though they are currently still incomplete, are there to show new customers the enormous range of inventory available, in stock and ready to go, all year around, provided by the only full service costume shop in the Tri State area.

As Beauty and the Beast does not employ a full time web technician, this over haul of the website will take some time to complete.  In fact, it will never be 100% complete as new things are happening all the time as older items get phased out.  As always, we are here to serve our community and listen to their requests.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2nd Looks

Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga is trying something new again!  While posting photos of the Clearance costumes for our very first Summerween sale, we came across some costumes that never seemed to get the attention they deserved.  We would like to give people a chance to take a second look at these outfits.  In their Clearance photos, you will see the package cover art plus a small photo of the costume on a mannequin, either on the headless one for just this purpose, or as it has been displayed in the store.

The grey dress above is the last one of it's kind.  If we had the time to show a customer what the dress really looked like, they normally bought it because it's AMAZING!  The silvery grey velvet with raised black flocking is stunning!  The design of the robe / gown is very flattering with sheer capless sleeves and black sequin trim.  The hat is more of a damsel cap than the horrid, 3 foot tall 'Dunce cap' the package suggests.  The underskirt is pretty pitiful and best replaced with anything else.

The Ladies's costume, of which I seem to have overlooked the name, is a beautiful, vibrant red velvet dress, a full lace overlay and a wide corset look belt.  Forget about the silly hand piece!  The three garments can be worn together or with other clothes for lots of mix and match outfits.

The men's costume, like the ladies, might actually be more useful if you took the pieces apart.  While the jacket has one short sleeve for the hand armor, I think it would look better with both sleeves cut off for more of a long vest look, with or without the vest.  It also has a rather nice pin at the neckline which can be used elsewhere, the vest has a nice skull pattern that would also work on a pirate costume.  The hand-pieces on both the male and female costume only cover the middle two fingers, so they can be switched to either side or worn as a miss-matched evil pair by the same person.

These costumes are from a company called Disquise, the line was called the D/Ceptions.  While these were excellent costumes, the packaging was TERRIBLE!  It was so bad, the art director should not have just been fired, he or she should have been drawn and quartered!

Not only were the packages dark and unattractive, the biggest D/Ception was the over use of funky Photoshop work on the models giving them giant bobble heads and enormous feet with teeny tiny hands.  Lost in the crazy image was the costume that no one ever seemed to notice.  Over the years, the most common remarks I heard about the costumes included "I don't want that big mask!"  and "Where can I get those boots?"  There were no masks, those are the distorted images of the models' heads and Disguise doesn't sell footwear.  That's why the costumes eventually landed in the Clearance section.  Sadly, even then, no one looks at them.  So, in all fairness to inanimate objects longing for good homes, I'm giving everyone one last chance to take a 2nd Look.

The photo used above is actually not the package art, it's an image found on the internet.  At least it shows the proper proportions of the model instead of making her face look as large as her torso.  The main problem with this package is showing the gown as having only one shoulder.  When customers try on the dress, they often complain about the side seem being ripped.  The dresses weren't torn, they were made with TWO shoulders and the 'torn spot' was actually the other arm hole.  This issue got so bad that I took a black marker and drew the right shoulder on all the packages. 

Last but not least is my personal favorite of this group.  It is made up of several extremely useful pieces.  It includes a black velvet tank / crop top, a long velvet skirt with slight train and kick split up the side front, a long sleeved black lace shirt with flowing sleeves, a very nicely detailed tie back belt with silver chains and a matching headpiece.  If I were still young and hot, I would have this costume in my closet to mix and match up dozens of ways - probably with 2 or 3 other costumes from this line.  They were all GREAT costumes - but very few ever appreciated them or would even LOOK at them.  So here's your chance.  Hope you enjoyed them.  Come grab a few while they are still around.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cool Sandy Pics are up!

It's been a very long time coming - but "Cool Sandy" finally reached the rental racks in Spring of 2015 and now her photos are on the Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga website.

Most recently published photos also include Rizzo's hot dance dress which is suitable for so many other applications.  Sandy's sweet white dress from the movie adaptation is not actually used in the stage production as she sits home alone singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" while everyone else is having fun at the dance contest.  But, we know you love this precious dress, so more copies will be coming along shortly.

See all the fun on the Grease / 1950's page of the website.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Walmart is WAY over priced!

Wow!  Most people believe that the chain stores have the lower prices than independent shops on everything.  Or they think that you can always find the best deals on line.  Walmart has been the 'go to' place for discount shopping for decades... but look what I found on their website while searching for an image. 

The Rubie's inexpensive children's skull makeup kit is listed at Regular price of $10.13, marked down to $8.44.  Beauty and the Beast has sold these same make up kits for $2.50 for over 20 years!  Walmart's price is listed at FIVE TIMES our regular price.  Their clearance price is $8.44.  Beauty and the Beast is giving them away FREE with any $20 purchase.

Beauty and the Beast has carried the full line of these makeup kits, including the Skull shown above, but also the Vampire, Witch, Devil, Cat, Cow, Clown, Camo and Pirate versions almost from the time we started in 1989.  The price has NEVER gone up!  However, now they don't sell as well as they once did and we are phasing them out to make room for a new line of water washable makeup kits.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Minions Movie

The Minion's movie starts tonight!  If you would like to join in the fun at Northgate Carmike Theater, other events or just want to tie a towel around your neck and pretend the living room carpet is lava, you need to have your own Villain-Con membership badge.   Just download the image above and resize to fit any new or slightly used badge holder.  Print it off, fold in half, insert and away you go! 

The multi badge image has been resized to fit the Horizontal Badge holders from Staples that con be used with a clip or lanyard. 

Have fun and enjoy the show! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Running with Scissors Summer Sale

The hot, hazy lazy days of summer are here and Susan is going crazy at Beauty and the Beast Costumes cutting prices all over the children's costume collection.   But cutting prices isn't the only thing she has in mind!  She's thinking 2015 needs to be the Summer of Sales!  New things will be coming in soon for next Halloween and she needs space.  So lots of costumes need to find new homes.  Here's how Susan plans to make it happen. 

                  JUNE is Princess and Pirate Party month!

Whether your little Princess wants to have a Tea Party or your hearty Pirate is about to ship out to Summer Camp, you need to check out the unbelievably wide selection of costumes and accessories at Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga.  This summer, it's all about creative dress up fun for boys and girls.


To help keep everyone looking sharp, if you buy any Pirate costume - even those that have just been marked down - your little buccaneer gets a free sword!

Put more magic into any fairy tale with a free sequin star wand when you buy any Princess costume, even from the clearance section, you get your choice of either a silver or gold star wand to match.

Many Pirate and Princess costumes for children have just been marked down 25% to 50% off!  Some are now as low as SIX DOLLARS!  But if that's not good enough for you... how about 10% off any regular priced pirate or princess costume AND a free sword or star wand!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Band Hats

Beauty and the Beast Costumes, Chattanooga has just acquired a rather large number of Band Hats.   These are white with black band and silver trim.  Each hat comes with it's own square plastic box, hinged with a handle.  We plan on using some of them for future rentals as toy soldiers, nut crackers, etc.  However, there are more of these than we need.  If you or someone you know might want a few, please call the shop at (423) 870-3510 during normal business hours.  Please help us find these hats a good home.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Halloween & Party Expo 2015

Just got back from the Halloween & Party Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana!  Wow!  That was FUN!  It's taking me a few days to recover, but it was well worth it.  My family turned this working convention into a week long vacation in the Big Easy.  It was just what I needed to get myself out of the rut of everyday life and get my creative juices flowing again.

On the retail front, get ready for another round of movie and media driven costumes for next Halloween. 

Did you fail to find an adult sized Elsa costume last year?  Never fear!  There will be a plethora of  Frozen Princess knock off costumes for 2015.  I never believed there could be so many variations on that one theme.  You'll be buried in an avalanche of sparkling aqua snowflakes.  Beauty and the Beast, Chattanooga will most likely be carrying the Fun World, Inc. Ice Queen in the $40 range for standard size and about $45 in plus.  The other good possibility is the Princess Krystal from Forum Novelties which will be closer to $50.  I believe either style is a better choice than the Disney brand one which premiered last year in the $60 range but was poorly made and to short.  At the time of this writing, the poorly received costume from Disguise is already on some discount sites for about $35.

Looks like American Horror Story has sparked a fresh interest in scary clowns.   While these never really left, the trend is moving away from the brightly colored "Killer Clowns from Outerspace" and toward the black and white variety.   Fans of "It" don't have to worry because Pennywise  looks like he's going to be strong for years to come.

My personal favorite is the new Annebelle costume with mask and wig from Rubies!  It comes in standard and extra large adult sizes.... but you'll just have to wait to see it!