Costume Cabaret, a year-round shop in Bel Air, braces for the Halloween rush

As popular movie titles make their way in and out of theaters, so do the costumes at Costume Cabaret in Bel Air, as the staff tries to keep up with the times as Halloween creeps closer.

The store caters to costume parties, local school spirit days and other creative needs year-round from its location in the Bel Air Town Center on Baltimore Pike, but when Oct. 31 rolls around, it’s showtime.

“Halloween preparation starts in January because there’s a national Halloween convention for buyers and sellers, and you have to stock up and get into that mindset early to make sure you’re prepared,” says Sharon Rodman, director of operations for Costume Cabaret.

Rodman says it takes about 21 different vendors to get the selection that she’s looking for to stock the store for the busy Halloween season.

When deciding what to to buy, she tries to include input from people of all ages. She asks her employees, friends and children what’s hot in pop culture to provide the best selection for a particular year.

“I had one of my employees ask me the other day if I got the pickle costume, and I was so confused,” Rodman says. “She said that a lot of people watch a show I’ve never heard of called ‘Rick and Morty’ and that there was a lot of talk surrounding a pickle character on there and that we should be ready.”

Costumes that they carry as staples each year include one called the “wicked scarecrow,” which is a high-quality complete “strawman” piece with all the accessories included. Other popular pieces from year to year are a doctor’s white coat, a foam beer bottle costume and a penguin body suit.

Rodman says that this year they’re expecting “Wonder Woman,” “Paw Patrol” and “Minions” to be big hits because of recent TV and movie releases.

When it comes to being a year-round costume store, she says that it takes a lot of planning ahead and having what people are looking for at the right time.

“It’s a lot of fun, but you have to really work it,” Rodman said. “We started offering deals to encourage people to plan their parties around costumes. If you take your invitation for a costume party to us, we’ll help come up with a discount for those people you’re inviting to your event.”

Kellee Britenstine has been shopping at the Costume Cabaret Bel Air location for three years to prepare for local fairy and pirate festivals and modeling costumes.

“I stick around the Renaissance and Victorian feel,” Britenstine says. “They have a great variety of costumes and special effect makeup.”

Britenstine also likes to be in the store around Halloween.

“I love Halloween time in the store and watching people get scared by their large selection of animatronics,” Britenstine says. “One year they had a jumping spider, and it was so much fun seeing all of the little children play and get scared by it.”

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