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Costumes on Haight is Closing

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Photo of the interior of Costumes on Haight from Marin Voice

Updated at 12:15pm

In a city where we jump at any excuse to frolic in strange outfits, is there anything sadder than the closing of a costume store? Especially one that is 25 years old? Yes friends, Costumes on Haight is unfortunately closing and this is sad news. It’s just one more interesting, quirky, fabulous part of San Francisco that’s being swallowed up by the growing blandness encroaching this city like The Nothing. This is sad news indeed.

Yesterday a reader named Natalie messaged me saying that she’d been in Costumes on Haight earlier that day and heard that they were closing at the end of the month. So I called to verify and got the bad news.

What will go in there next? Will it be another pilates studio? Another fancy barbershop? How about a restaurant with a really great concept and good food that will also most likely fail SF is so damn expensive?

I got this captain’s hat many years ago at Costumes on Haight and I’ve worn the shirt out of it ever since. Photo by Brendan Mainini

My original info was that it was due to a rent hike but I’ve since heard word that that isn’t the case after all. You should follow them on Instagram to make sure to stay up on all of their announcements but here is the official statement from Gordo, the manger of Costumes on Haight and it is a MUST READ:

Yes, it’s true. We’re going to close and that’s a major bummer. Also, it’s pretty wack. Legally, we’ve been advised it’s “Like, a real downer.” After 28 years in business serving the needs of the city’s fun seekers and costume-deprived, this lil’ queer owned and operated “Pop and Pop” shop is preparing for a special event of it’s own- a funeral.

The usual factors are at play – rising costs, changing demographics of the city, an old fashioned business model that can’t compete with today’s ‘on demand’ needs. Competition from Amazon? Oh yeah, that too.

It’s another classic San Francisco story. It’s another modern ‘brick and mortar’ story, really.

I assumed management about 7 months ago, and in that time we’ve completely redesigned the store to provide a one-of-a-kind, only in SF experience. We’ve doubled down on quality and customer service and significantly increased guest satisfaction. But it didn’t help.

We’ve got the goods, we’ve got expert level, friendly service. We’ve got a truly unique shopping experience. What we’ve also got, unfortunately, is a reputation for being ‘too expensive.’’

There was a time when our high quality products were valued by the community, and, perhaps, the only option. But demographics change and so do their needs.

We want to pay our employees a buck or two over minimum wage, they really are experts, they really do want to see our customers look their best and have the most fun. When you add up rent, payroll, and wholesale costs, the Truth is, our products are underpriced! We don’t make a profit anymore! Customers have other shopping options that they didn’t have years ago, and they’ve started coming to us less and less.

Increased costs+decreasing business = We gone, baby!

As I said, our landlords are great. They’ve always been great. Rising rents, on a twist of the narrative aren’t the issue.

Remember folks, we vote with our pocketbooks. If you like having a vibrant city with unique stores and small businesses- you gotta support them. And by that I mean-  support them with your $$$.

Costumes on Haight provided year round jobs to a staff of 8 lovable oddballs. Weren’t nobody ever getting rich off this joint, but we made enough to survive. Every time a place like ours closes,  the staff- the creatives, hustlers, performers, drag queens, set designers, seamstresses – interesting people with non-tech related skills- the old guard of ‘bizarre’ san francisco- are forced to find a new way to fit in to a changing city. Will we find jobs that can allow us to stay in the city? Will we be supported? Or, just like Costumes on Haight, are our days numbered? As I said, legally speaking, “Like, a real downer.”

Want to chat more? Or come get some dope photos of our all new layout and store? Get in touch.

So what can you do to help? Go buy costumes! I mean it won’t save the store, but it will help them make some money and get rid of their stock before closing. There’s also gonna be a sale at the end of the month so if there’s any rental costumes you’ve been eyeing for your permanent collection, this would be your time.

As one of the employees at Costumes on Haight told me over the phone, “Do not costume gently into the night.”

What are your favorite costumes you got at Costumes on Haight? Post them in the comments below!

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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