Costume shop gets a makeover

By Manisha Krishnan, North Shore News August 29, 2010

Costume shop gets a makeover

A costume is about a lot more than just wearing a silly outfit.

It’s about turning a dream into reality, and that’s what Carol’s Costume Corner — soon to be called Boo La La — is all about.

“I think the essence of a costume store is to really help dress people’s fantasies. There’s something magical, really fun and very creative where you get to think of different characters, whether it’s from a fairy tale like Cruella de Vil who could be mean or someone cute like Minnie Mouse or Tinkerbell,” says owner Laurie Sluchinski, a Deep Cove resident who took over the store in 2005.

Back then the business was built on rental costumes for parties and theatrical use, but these days more than half of the inventory is for sale. And while Sluchinski loves supporting local designers, she’s also willing to go the distance for her customers.

“I follow trends around the world and then go around the world to . . . bring things to Vancouver that are hot in New York, L.A., London,” she says.

“Part of what makes Boo La La rock is the team has a really strong fashion background so we know style and fit compared to just costumes. The costume needs to look great or why go out?”

That dedication along with involvement in community projects like the Easter Seals Drop Zone has raised the store’s profile over the last few years, and Sluchinski says customers are flocking from all over.

“Someone called in from Switzerland yesterday, we had a guy come in from Congo a couple weeks ago. . . . It’s shocking where people are coming from.”

That’s why she’s decided it’s time for a change.

In addition to rebranding, Sluchinski will be setting up a temporary location in Gastown at the end of September and starting an e-commerce shop for international use. Her staff is also embracing social media as a means of interacting with their customer base.

“Our clients are going out MC-ing (the Gay Pride Parade), winning dragon boat costume races, doing all these crazy types of things and for them to be able to put their own photos and share with a community of friends is really cool,” says Sluchinski.

“Definitely with the world of costumes, there are so many different ways to take it, and I want to bring a fresh, modern approach on how to have fun with style and new looks. The only thing that’s not going to change is our love of customer service.”

Having always been fond of playing dress-up as a child, Sluchinski graduated university with a degree in women’s studies before heading to Montreal for fashion school. While she enjoyed that scene, it wasn’t until she attended a costume boot camp back in Vancouver that she really fell into her niche.

“It all made sense. All those different paths that I had taken just gave me more knowledge to be here now,” she explains.

Halloween is naturally the shop’s busiest time of year, but stags and birthdays ending in zeros are also pretty big and luckily every theme is covered from disco to greaser to Hollywood.

“It’s amazing because the spirit of costumes makes everyone a kid. So (they) might have a serious job but when they come into the store, start playing around and come out of the change room as a hippie they’re laughing and whatever reality they have gets put on pause just to play.”

Carol’s Costume Corner is located at 152 East Second St., North Vancouver. For more information go to www.carolscostumecorner.com.

mkrishnan@nsnews.com

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