Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Closed for Business

On Saturday we closed the door for the last time as we concluded three days of the Costume Shop and Yard Sale. Yes, I shed a few tears, both in gratitude for a great 15 years and in sadness for the fun times I'll miss.

Thank you to all who have been partons and volunteers over the past decade and a half. You have brightened my fall days, caused me to be creative and patient, and allowed me to live out a dream of attempting to run a small business. At this time the economy, my porfessional and personal place in life, and a decrepit building have culminated in a clear signal that it's time to do something else.

Never fear, I'll still be playing dress-up for Halloween and I hope you will, too.

With Great Affection,

P.S. For all of you Twin Cities Metropolitan Area folks, I donated several costumes to Hastings Family Service who will benefit from your purchase. Twin Cities Costume and Magic on Seventh Street near lowertown St. Paul is a great local retailer and rental shop. I encourage you to use them rather than the internet if you can.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monday, November 01, 2010

It Is Finished.

After 15 years of playing Dress Up I have discerned that it's time to call it quits.

Our first season in downtown Hastings in 1996 was a whirlwind of hauling laundry from town to Vermillion Township and back. I didn't have a clue how more than half of the accessories matched up with the proper costumes, and my youngest was riding the bus back and forth to kindergarten from our corner store.

Our second season brought a flurry of Halloween activity to a tired old granary on our new residential acreage in Marshan Townshp, not to mention costuming Hastings Community Theatre productions and Meeting of the Minds school projects.

By our third season we had the hang of it and our troupe of volunteer Costumers and loyal Customers grew and grew. Big Tig the Tabby cat moved in to mind the mouse patrol. We had our best seasons around the turn of the century, before Target came to town and long before the internet provided in home shopping for anything the heart desired.

In 2004 my job changed and I had to rely more heavily than ever on my girlfriends for volunteer support and was no longer able to deal with off-season appointments due to my travel schedule. Then Mary was deployed to Iraq and we considered closing down. But the faithful crew of Costumers wouldn't hear of it.

We're still going strong but the rental market for homemade and tired old clothing just isn't there anymore. The building has progressed from cute, to quaint, to downright decrepit. A part-time business like this can't afford the overhead to repair the building. And Tig hasn't caught a mouse all season. He's a loving, tired, scrawny old cat.

It is clearly time for the collective creative talent and energy of this group to do something else. I can't wait to see what it is.

My deepest gratitude to all of our faithful customers, and to my amazing volunteer Costumers: Miss Kimberly, Princess Kathy, Mary, Danika, Barb, Peggy, Beth, Linda, Katie, Phyllis, Janet, Norma, Danielle, Summer, and Greta. Each of you, no matter how long or brief your tenure working in the shop, have brought joy and friendship into my life for which I am eternally grateful.

Lest I forget the men in the life of this business, many thanks to Bob the Builder, John the Electrician, and Captain Steve the Handyman. Arthur and Joren know the collection better than most and are the richer for being boys who played dress up as children. Dale, my husband and my love, thank you for indulging this dream. Can I have a new boat now?

Many pieces of our collection will eventually be for sale. Stay tuned to the blog and the website for details.

Now, before I am completely finished, I need to chase down five costumes and two bounced checks. Any bets on whether or not I get Helen's costume back before my birthday?

Sunday, October 31, 2010


We had a great time Saturday night. All kinds of friends got dressed up to surprise one another at Princess Kathy and Captain Steve's Halloween Party. I forgot my camera so I only have some before and after pictures. I got to help dress Mary up as Roxie from Chicago. She already had the leather and lace theme going and I just added on with accessories. Peggy was rockin' the Geisha Girl look (at left). I struggled with her make-up, but it wasn't a bad impression. We need to get authentic face paint next time.

As Peggy and I were still in make-up mode when Arthur and his friends hit the shop in search of large animal costumes. He, Kevin and Shane left the shop as a Tiger, Parrot, and Fox with Marisol the Veterinarian. It did my heart good to see them negotiating their costumes.

Dale was my hero tonight. (He's also my husband.) He will dress up in pretty much anything I ask him to. He shaved his full beard and mustache this afternoon so I had a fresh face for a Raggedy Andy palette. He held our ancient but authentic Raggedy Ann doll on his lap for me while I did his make-up. Too cute.

I wasn't sure how to do the rag doll bodies so that we could show off our authentic "I Love You" hearts. I managed to find two red union suits that fit us and made hearts to match.

For those who may be interested in creating their own version of the costumes I used Simplicity Pattern #2514, Classic Raggedy Ann & Andy. It was not an easy pattern and it was missing a piece (ties for Ann's pinafore and Andy's neck bow). Norma helped with cutting pattern pieces and puzzling out the missing parts. She created Andy's tie from scratch. Finding socks in red and white stripes proved difficult, too. So we settled for red and black and they looked truly excellent.

I did cough up the cash for the best yarn I could buy (thanks to Danika and her grandmother for that assist and consultation!) to create the wigs. Peggy and Barb get major kudos for attaching yarn to a wig base and barbering red dreds!

Dale and I had a great time tonight playing rag doll best friends. When we visited a few bars on our way home, just to see what kind of amazing costumes were out there, we were disappointed. At two bars we were told by many that we would have won had we been in time for the contest. But I have come to the unhappy conclusion that you have to dress and act like a slut to win a contest at a bar if you are a girl. That's why I was so thankful to Princess Kathy and Capt. Steve for having a party. We got to watch transformations and amazing performances. I will announce winners once the photos are in.

I hope you have/had a fantastic Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Last night I proved, again, that old buildings and with old wiring systems can't handle electrical overloads with very much grace. I guess having all the Halloween lights on the outdoor decorations plugged into the same circuit that was running a space heater and the computer just couldn't handle the load when I started the vacuum cleaner on another, what I thought was unrelated, outlet.

DARK . . . . . . and quiet. . . . . .


We tripped a switch. I moved costumes to get to the breaker box and attempted several times to reset the failing switch. No go. Dammit!

I called my life-long electrician and consultant in Illinois, he did instruct me through an electrical repair from afar once before. He agreed that since the load didn't seem to snap the circuit, but gradually slowed it down, that it might be over-heated and could be reset once everything was cooled down. If that didn't work, he told me to call my local guy back to replace the breaker.

So let me be clear; on Tuesday the wind storm blew a dead tree down on the shop.
No damage. But is scared the s**t out of me, shook the whole shop.

Wednesday the electricity to the dressing rooms and front of the shop went out.

This morning when I walked out of the house there was an impressively noisy blackbird convention going on in the trees above the shop. The cacophony was damn near deafening as I drew closer to the decrepit building. I began to wonder, am I secretly on camera for some Hitchcock Reality TV joke? Am I being haunted by a snickering and secretive producer? I was picturing potential titles; "Death at Dress Me Up, " or "Costume Capers," or "R.I.P. at D.M.U."

Well, Princess Kathy's talented husband, Capt. Steve the Lumber-Jack-Electrician-Fireplace-Salesman-Wood-Stove-Technician, made a heroic visit to my little Halloween Habit during his lunch. I had flashlights and screwdrivers all ready. It took him all of 7.5 minutes to move the wiring from the bad breaker to an empty but functional breaker. YAY, CAPTAIN STEVE! THANK YOU!!!!!

The wind has also died down and the blackbirds have taken wing for another roost.

I guess I better quit my whining and get back to the Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes so they'll be ready for the Hastings Community Halloween Party tomorrow.

I look forward to seeing you at the shop for a round of Dress Up!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Procrastinator's Paradise

The Countdown Jack O'Lantern at the right says that Halloween is six days and four hours away as I make this post. That means that most parties are in four or five days. This is the week that all the busy folks, procrastinators, planners, and reluctant folks are beginning to stress about costumes for the Halloween weekend.


The costume shop is never busy early in the season. It's always the week of Halloween that we hope to be crazy busy. So please come out and let us help you dress up. Don't forget to bring your friends, too.

See you soon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Community Halloween Party

Our not-so-small-town of Hastings, Minnesota, has a great tradition this time of year. Our Youth First council that works toward partnerships and collaboratives for building assets with young people joins with the local YMCA to host a Halloween Party.

On Friday, October 29, children under 12, and their parents, are invited to dress up in their most creative costumes and show up at the Hastings High School Commons, 200 Sieben Drive, from 5:30-8pm. There will be games, tricks, treats, and the Haunted Hallway. Our favorite part? The Costume Contest, of course!

One of the ways that Dress Me Up supports this effort is to offer costumes for use by all of the volunteer workers who host the party. If you are a Community Halloween Party Volunteer in need of a costume that night, please contact Youth First Coordinator, Ann Grotjohn, at 651-480-6182 or at agrotjohn@ci.hastings.mn.us.

We hope you have a SPOOKTACULAR time!!!!