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August 31, 2010

Anderson Costume to close after 33 years

Owner hopes to sell off stock

CHESTERFIELD, Ind. — The row of trophies declaring championships dating as far back as 1981 are visible from the outside of Anderson Costume, shining through the dusty shop window.

But when you step inside, these accolades aren’t even visible. They are dwarfed by the bunny heads, red curly wigs, grand renaissance ball gowns and fuzzy gorilla costumes tightly packed into racks and hanging from every available nook and cranny in the Chesterfield costume store. Owner Patricia Coppock said she will be sad to see those racks lighten their load and for wall space to once again be visible.

She’s spent the last 33 years building up her costume stock both by sewing the costumes herself and purchasing them. But seeing the shop empty — as tough as it will be — is what Coppock is hoping for as she plans to close the shop this fall and liquidate her merchandise.

“I’m having a really hard time giving it up,” she said. “I loved pretty much everything about it. I will miss interacting with people the most I think. I was doing something I loved, and I was helping the customers to have a fun time.”

After 33 years in the costume business and 28 years in her Chesterfield location, Coppock said the economy and rise of competition in the form of the Internet and temporary costume stores have forced her to close her doors permanently.

“It seems like creativity and value aren’t as much of a priority anymore,” she said. “We’ve become more of a throwaway society. There are these 30-day shops that take a lot of my business. And the Internet, that’s probably my biggest competition. They aren’t as good of quality and as nice but it seems people don’t care if the costume falls apart after wearing it for only an hour.”

With a stock of around 3,000 costumes and rolls and rolls of fabric she had purchased to make other costumes that went unused, Coppock said there will be “plenty of good deals.”

About 80 percent of her stock is rental costumes that she is now selling and the rest has always been retail. The exact closing date is still not known, but Coppock said she plans to close sometime this fall.

Anderson Costume isn’t the only costume store to face this reality in current economic conditions. Adrienne Anderson — owner of Jacksonville, Fla., Freckles Theatrical and Clown Supplies — is the immediate past president of the National Costumers Association. She said mom-and-pop operations like Coppock’s are being forced to close across the country because of the challenges facing the industry this century.

“It is really a tough job right now,” Anderson said. “There are so many things against you — all these temporary stores, the Internet and every conceivable store that can carry Halloween supplies are now carrying them. Halloween is our biggest season. It is our Christmas.”

Anderson is closing her shop at the end of the year.

“It is hard to maintain the same level of involvement in this kind of business as we all once had,” she said. “The presence in the community is still there, but the wants and needs of the community have changed.”

Coppock’s involvement in the association was extensive. She is a past president herself and has held just about every position in the association. Anderson recently presented Coppock with an honorary lifetime membership to the association.

“She is a vital member of our organization,” Anderson said. “She will continue to have prestige and esteem in the association.”

Rachel Godollei-Johnson, owner of Indianapolis’ Landes Costumes by Rachel, said the closing of Coppock’s shop is a loss for the costuming world and for Madison County.

“She is very knowledgeable in this field,” she said. “She’s one of the traditional costumers that knows their history. She’s done the research. And the professionalism that goes with that traditional learning assures that these are all well-made garments, that they will hold up and look right. Pat is such a wonderful lady. She’s been a huge influence to me professionally and personally.”

Coppock is sad to say goodbye to the business but is looking forward to the next chapter in her journey. She plans to enjoy more time with family and friends, time to sew more for herself and hopefully continue to make costumes for Anderson’s Mainstage Theatre.

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call Coppock at 378-5990.

Contact Abbey Doyle, 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com.

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