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.