BRIDGEVIEW — Whether you want to dress up as the Queen of England for Halloween this year, or a cross-dressing cheerleader, Rene Schindel can help.
The retired high school teacher runs The Costume Bank, which houses thousands of costumes available for rent.
The business, located in the Bridgeview area of Surrey, was launched five years ago by Schindel, who taught sewing for decades.
Schindel said her enterprise got started by default.
"I've been doing drama and sewing since I was 14. Then I raised a competitive dancer," she said with a chuckle.
She began sewing her daughter's outfits to save cash, which led to becoming a costume mistress for her dance studio.
When it came time for the studio to part with her creations, Schindel kept two-thirds of the bounty.
She found a warehouse, and the business was born.
She's had "gallons" of costumes donated, including designer evening gowns from the 1960s and '70s, and mink fur coats.
She's also bought from secondhand stores, and makes a lot from scratch.
Her originals include Elmo, Mario, the Big Bad Wolf and the whole KISS foursome - probably her favourite.
"I built it for an aftergrad party. It was for four teachers. They played the whole party until 4 a.m. in the costumes - the kids didn't even know who was playing for them. It was very cool," she said.
She buys some costumes new, but she'll then work her magic to make them better, by adding zippers or other alterations.
She'sexcitedaboutgetting her hands on a Slimer mask to go with her Ghostbusters collection.
"I've got all the Ghostbusters costumes, including a sexy one and the (Stay Puft) Marshmallow Man," she said.
Schindel estimated she has between 6,000 and 8,000 costumes - but those include about 15,000 "pieces," because not everyone wants the full shebang, she explained.
"They might want the gogo boots, they might want the wig or they might want to be Austin Powers, but don't like the pants. Every costume doesn't come in a package."
She does a lot of work for schools, private parties, murder mysteries and theatrical productions, but her busiest two days of the year are on the weekend before Halloween. She encourages folks to check her online inventory and call to reserve costumes, because the popular ones go fast. "We've already got Austin Powers rented," she said.
Schindel said the "popup" Halloween stores hurt her business, but she prides herself in offering highquality products - and often it's cheaper to rent than buy.
"Who really needs a saloon girl outfit?" she asked. "Why spend $90 at a pop-up store when you can spend $45 and rent it here?" Ironically, after spending her life creating costumes for everyone else, Schindel doesn't like to play dress-up herself.
"I'm a behind-thescenes person," she said. "I've always been in the background, and I like it that way."
Check out a portion of her selection online at www.thecostumebank.com or call 604-583-4037. The Costume Bank is located at #105-11558 132A St., Surrey. email@example.com
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