Costume shop closing and everything is $10

CASABLANCA Costume Hire owner Ann Maree Ling isn't short of a story, especially after a decade in the biz.

"We had a guy come in here and hire the Bundy Bear suit one day to go and propose to his girlfriend," she tells the QT over the counter.

"She got all dressed up and put a bow-tie on and went along with flowers and engagement ring and she knocked him back.

"She wouldn't have known who he was - it's a full face helmet," she laughed.

The store is a mad-house, with costumes and people everywhere, all in a frenzy.

Because ike all good things, the store must come to an end. Ms Ling cites internet shopping and even Costco as one of the reasons for its closure.

She's now selling off all the remaining stock for a song - $10 - for all the costumes in store. From Alice in Wonderland to Zorro, she has it all.

Walls are hung with hats, movie-quality Homer Simpson and dinosaur masks, realistic critter suits, Morphsuits, any kind of dress up you could dream of, it's there.

"Things were extremely busy when we first started here," Ms Ling said, "The first couple of Halloweens I had five or six people working.

"Now I do most of it by myself, I noticed the big difference when Amazon came online.

"It's internet shopping that's made it difficult, like a lot of small businesses"

Ms Ling said even Costco, Ipswich opening has had a detrimental effect on the business, with people buying in bulk, leaving no disposable income leftover.

Like most fanatics, Ms Ling said she has her favourite costumes and like a pet shop owner she wants to see them all go to a good home.

When asked what costumes had proven the most popular over the years, she said there was one sure-fire way to ensure people want to dress up like them.

"The Joker... Anyone that dies is popular, poor old Amy Winehouse has been really popular," she laughed.

"People have just been coming in and buying contact lenses the last couple of years because that's as effective as a costume."

Among those who have been into the store include famous sportsmen, local celebrities, councillors and mayors and famous rugby player Quade Cooper.

After 20 odd staff and a decade in the costume business, she said it's time to move on and spend time enjoying herself.

"There's been some really interesting people come through here over the years ... (but) I'm retiring, I'm 64, it's time to retire. I want to go back to theatre, I used to do lots of pantomimes at Ipswich Little Theatre," she said.

Snap up a bargain at Casablanca's Costume Hire on 4 Lobley St, Ipswich and get in quick, Ms Ling closes the doors Saturday afternoon.

If you have a quirky store we would love to hear it. Get in touch with a QT journalist at qt@qt.com.au or call through on 3817 1707.



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