Costume shop holds first sale in 6 years

| 10/20/13 10:00pm

On Friday morning, the Bentley Theater in the Hopkins Center was transformed into a full-fledged department store as the costume shop staff began setting up for Saturday's costume sale, the first in about six years.

"I started a year ago, and when I started our faculty designer said, This is one of the things I want to happen soon,'" said Jennifer Bilbo, manager of the costume shop. "So I've spent the last year working with [others], going through stock, reorganizing, culling and trying to choose what goes into the sale."

The year-long process involved massive reorganization of the storage rooms, where costumes have been stored over the past six years. With other productions occurring during this time, those in the costume shop had to find time in between to go through stock.

"Shows are always the priority," Bilbo said. "If there was any spare time, I would plan ahead and have a list of things that work-study students could go and do, and then we also had the breaks in between terms. Over winter break, we hired quite a bit of help to do this work specifically for about five weeks."

In the past, it has not been uncommon for people to line up outside the doors of the theater for past costume sales, and this year was no different.

"The sale was extremely busy from opening till about just after noon, after that there was a steady flow of people but it wasn't as busy," said Nkenna Ibeakanma '16, who works in the shop. "There were about 100 people waiting for us to open at 10 a.m. We're all really happy with the turnout."

Many Upper Valley residents came out for the sale, creating the feeling of a community event.

"Today has been fantastic, but a bit of a blur," said Hannah Collman '15, a shop assistant and theater major. "I was surprised how many people were actually lined up outside half an hour ahead of time, I didn't expect that. Also, the spirits of everyone have been really up. It's been a great community-spirited gathering."

Initially the sale was scheduled only for Oct. 19, but there were so many items left over from the first day that the costume sale has been extended to today as well.

Profits from both days will go toward improvements within the costume shop as well as expansion of stock.

"We have very limited budgets here both for shows and for general supplies that we need," Bilbo said. "I'm trying to do a lot of updates to the shop. It would make our lives a lot easier if we had some new supplies and equipment here."

This year's sale primarily features streetwear from the 1980s and 1990s as well as a few medieval, Renaissance and ancient Greek and Roman costumes. Those working in the costume shop are optimistic about profits, although somewhat nervous that students and community members may be expecting more costume items than clothes.

"It depends on people's expectations," Bilbo said. "Even though the fliers say there are clothes and costumes, I think a lot of people might come here expecting more Halloween costumes and maybe not expecting all the streetwear."

Indeed, many students were hoping for there to be more costumes available at the sale. Although they may have walked out empty-handed, everyone enjoyed the sale and had a positive experience.

"They seemed to have a pretty good variety," Sophie Hoffman '16 said. "I didn't end up buying anything and was only there for five or so minutes. They didn't really have anything that I was looking for, but I thought that the event was overall well run."

Staff members said they hopeto sell much more of the items during Monday's extended hours. Leftover items will be offered to local high schools and theaters as well as the Listen Center thrift stores, Bilbo said.