Frightening attire

Shopping for Halloween costumes can be exhausting.

But several local stores provide a solution to the Halloween shopping nightmare and have tried to make the process simple. At M&P Costumes and Features Costumes, shoppers can find genuine material like velvet and satin.

About 40 percent of M&P’s costumes are handmade and the other 60 percent are ordered. The store carries about 2,000 different costumes to choose from a stock of 10,000 to 12,000 between the Tampa and Port Richey stores. The Tampa store has been open for 14 years and is located in the Kmart Shopping Center on the corner of North Dale Mabry Highway and Fletcher Avenue.

Features Costumes has two locations, one in St. Petersburg and one in Tampa, which has been open for 14 years. Costumes are manufactured or custom made at the store. The Tampa store is located on West Barcelona Street and MacDill Avenue.

Instead of packaged costumes thrown on a wall, M&P’s costumes are of theatrical grade material and are ironed and in good shape, according to Mike Matteo, company president.

“Keeping the costumes looking good is something we work hard at doing,” he said. “You’re getting good stuff.”

Duane Wendel, co-owner of Features Costumes, said that most of his store’s costumes are middle to high end, and the store caters mostly to clients who want a realistic-looking costume instead of one from a bag.

In order for someone to rent a costume at M&P, they must go in and pick out a costume from the pictures and descriptions posted on the wall. After trying on the costume, if a shopper finds something of interest, then a security deposit is placed with a credit card.

To rent a costume at Features Costumes, a customer must go in and try on a costume, reserve that costume with cash, check or a credit card, place a deposit for the rental with cash or a credit card and then come back and pick up the costume.

At M&P Costumes, a person can rent a costume for up to three days with no extra charge because most people wear the costume during a weekend of Halloween parties.

However, at Features Costumes, if customers want the costume for more than 24 hours, there is an extra fee. Besides costume rental, both stores carry full lines of makeup and accessories.

Matteo said what makes his store different from others is that the store personnel can give advice on how to wear makeup with the costume and give help picking accessories by what people wore during the time period the costume is from.

Another place to find Halloween costumes is The Wooden Nickel, which has been open for 28 years. The store is located in the shopping plaza on the corner of 15th Street and Fletcher Avenue.

Although The Wooden Nickel offers mostly packaged costumes, the store does have a small selection of costume rentals.

“We have top quality costumes down to basic costumes,” said Jessica Manthei, sales clerk.

In addition to costumes, the store also offers a wide assortment of accessories, including wigs, novelties and masks.

“We are like a Spencers but with more (merchandise) and without the corporate (aspect),” Manthei said. “We don’t have to have seven of this or seven of that. You definitely have to come in, spend some time and look around.”

One of the advantages to renting a costume as opposed to buying one is that a person does not have to keep a costume that probably won’t be worn again.

“No one wants to wear the same thing year after year, and instead of getting cheesy fabric (from a packaged costume), you get quality material and save money in the long run,” said Matteo.

Manthei said that a disadvantage to renting a costume is that the renter has to be cautious of ruining the material.

“With rentals, you have to be careful because you can’t damage it in any way, but anything you buy you can keep and change or alter it to anything you like,” she said.

  • Contact Adria Gannat