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The Best Costume Shops

Today's Parent / October 2012

Buy, find or make the coolest costumes with our guide to the biggest and best costume stores ‒ both scary and sweet ‒ across Canada.

National

H&M
Avid H&Mers will be thrilled by their adorable kids’ collection, All For Children, with costumes in selected stores. Bunny suits and pink flamingo hats will have you feeling fuzzy inside and out – the collection also includes an adorable bear head and a full-body white rabbit suit – for kids ages 1ó to eight. Twenty five percent of sales are being donated to UNICEF. hm.com

Once Upon A Child

Gently used is a great way to cut your costs this season, and Once Upon A Child – with nearly 30 franchises across Canada – specializes in just that. A $50 Disney store costume, for example, will go for about $10. Bring last year’s too-small outfit for cash back on the spot. The average location buys about1,800 costumes a year. onceuponachild.com

Shoppers Drug Mart
Pharmacy lovers (or those with piles of Optimum points) can find everything they need for Halloween at select Shoppers Drug Mart stores. Bestselling full costumes for the toddler set include Thomas the Train and storybook princesses, while older kids can don a wig for as low as $10 to play the part of a haunting witch. New for 2012 is the ultra-popular Monster High characters, and Hollywood’s newest resurrection of the Avengers with Iron Man. shoppersdrugmart.ca

Old Navy
Adorable baby bodysuits with pumpkins, skeletons and witches are sold with a famous assortment of Halloween costumes. You’ll find cuddly lions, dragons, princesses and pirates in stores across Canada. Shop online if you don’t feel like braving the mall. A sweet treat for mom: Prices start at less than $20. oldnavy.ca

Mastermind Toys
Dress-up and imagination are more than a Halloween prop at Mastermind Toys; they’re a creative kid staple all year-round. A wide selection of make-believe gear and play items for kids ages three and up includes police helmets, explorers’ gear and cleaning toys that kids can use as the perfect costume accessory. They’ve got a reversible king and knight costume, if you’re feeling royal, or pirate hats that’ll make you go “arrr.” mastermindtoys.com

Walmart
Shoppers will be goblin-up the choices at this mass retailer. A large assortment of costumes for all ages include everything from perennial favourites like witches and zombies, to the latest looks from the likes of Spider-Man, Batman and The Avengers – all starting as low as $8 for kids and $12 for adults. walmart.ca

Value Village

Spend a little less by getting creative at one of 122 stores across Canada. Besides their seasonal Halloween collection of ready-made costumes for all ages, mix and match accessories with the year-round stacks of great vintage finds for endless possibilities. valuevillage.com

Online-Only Retailers

costumechik.com
Last year, Costumechik.com shipped 10,000 costumes in all sizes (children, teens, men and women) to as far away as Japan (a pope costume, no less!). A strange bestseller of the moment is the full-body green morphsuits (you breath and drink through the material) for a large group of aliens-to-be. We’re not asking too many questions. 888-236-5459

buycostumes.com
It’s the year of superheroes – Avengers, Princess Merida, Snow White – and buycostumes.com is ready. The web’s most popular online Halloween costume retailer on “this side of Transylvania” ships party supplies, decor and classic costumes – pirates, prisoners and pilots, oh my! – for kids, adults and dogs, too: Suit up your mutt in a tuxedo for a dapper (or 007) look. 800-459-2969

creepersonline.com
This Canadian store serves up just about every crazy, cute or creepy-crawly costume a kid could want. Complete costumes for infants, toddlers, children, tweens and teens will have your family outfitted by the time the site’s annual Halloween countdown runs out in front of your eyes. Awesome kid costumes like their too-cute Animal Planet collection include harder-to-find lemur and polar bear suits.

dreampowercostumes.com
Support Canadian crafters by ordering a custom-designed costume that’s handmade with the highest-quality material and construction. In business for 24 years, they’ve created their fair share of unique costumes – a multi-coloured dragon, a baby teddy bear (with blue bow tie!) and a dinosaur ballerina – that will have little imaginations running wild. You only need to order a few days in advance; most costumes can be shipped the next day (to any corner of the globe!) and arrive within four in North America. Prices range from $24 to $70. 519-725-2119

spirithalloween.com
The huge Halloween superstore’s more than 900 seasonal locations pop up across North America come September and October. Kids will love their selection of Angry Birds suits and parents can dress wee ones up as the cutest Sesame Street monsters. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry (with cupcakes) and an Amy Winehouse wig are all hip for big kids and adults in 2012. Plus, Spirit is using its massive share for good: Last year, they donated $3 million to children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada as part of the Spirit of Children Program. Nothing scary about that! 866-586-0155

disguise.com
Headquartered in San Diego, Disguise Costumes has come a long way since the dozen ensembles they launched with in 1987. They’re now a leading fashion-driven global design company, partnered with Pixar Films, Hasbro, Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon, delivering the best of the best. New for 2012 is 101 Dalmatians, Care Bears, Brave and The Hulk.

Yukon

Angellina’s Toy Boutique
This award-winning children’s boutique in Whitehouse touts a unique selection of local Yukonmade toys, Canadian finds and eco-friendly toys from abroad. Halloween is especially exciting with glow-in-the-dark paints, capes and wings, and elegant attire for your little princesses, kings and knights. You’ll love their delicious Canadian-made Halloween chocolate section to enjoy after the trick-or-treaters have gone home. 1116 1st Ave., Whitehorse. 867-393-4488; yukontoys.com

British Columbia

Boo La La
This shop boasts an extensive range of thousands of vintage rental costumes (and hundreds to buy if you simply must have it!). From hand-beaded flapper dresses to Marie Antoinette princess gowns and a brand new line of designer wigs, this retro gem promises to have the perfect disguise for older kids (and fabulous moms). 152 East 2nd St., North Vancouver. 604-986-4880; boolalacostumes.com

The Party Bazaar
This locally owned and operated shop has been in business for more than 35 years. You’ll have plenty of reason to party at their bumping Halloween preview on September 29, where prizes, popcorn and face painting are sure to get you in the spirit of All Hallows Eve. Don’t forget to have your picture snapped by an in-costume staffer in the stand-up coffin before diving into the super-stocked shelves of kids’ costumes: headless horsemen, Harry Potter, Hello Kitty and the Smurfs are all there. 1296 Station St., Vancouver. 604-873-5241; thepartybazaar.com

Pandora’s Costume Box
Located just outside of the downtown core, Pandora’s is a local pillar: They provide pioneer costumes for elementary-school field trips and design costumes for summer theatre in the park. At Halloween, Pandora’s is known for its personal service – it’s run by a pack of costume-obsessed women – including costume alterations. Amidst homemade rentable ensembles in all sizes is non-toxic, child-friendly makeup and accessories from animal ears to vampire teeth to colourful tights. 753 Victoria St., Kamloops. 250 374-7735; pandorascostumebox.com

Victoria Costumes
Owner Charlotte Rennison practises what she preaches: When she’s not making sure her more than 3,000 rentable costumes are in order, she’s a celebrity impersonator, imitating the likes of Cinderella, Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga at parties all over the island. Year-round, the store provides costumed characters for singing telegrams, marriage proposals and retirement parties. This year brings Dark Knight and Joker ensembles that are so real they’ve landed on local TV stations. 7060 West Saanich Rd., Brentwood Bay. 778-426-0781; victoriacostumes.com

Thomas FX
So spooky it’s often mistaken for a haunted house with its cackling witches and bubbly cauldrons, Thomas FX even boasts a “Dark Zone” of scary props, animatronics and startling surprises so you can host the scariest party on the block. The store’s a fave with film-set stylists, but no need to be a seasoned professional; Thomas FX sells all the accessories you’ll need ‒ skeleton bones, zombie intestines and bloody bandages ‒ to create a gory one-of-a-kind costume that’s sure to impress. 140 Riverside Dr. W., North Vancouver. 604-929-5455; thomasfx.com

Alberta

Custom Costumes
More than a store, Custom Costumes is a Halloween experience. You’ll know you’re having one by the 10-foot animated Frankenstein (he goes by “Franky”), deli counter display full of faux gruesome body parts and a looming (animated) zombie attack. Amidst the scary surroundings, however, are some seriously cute costumes like M&M’s and oversized crayons. September to November: 3803 Calgary Trail, Edmonton. 780-467-3738; customcostumes.ca

The Store Upstairs
Just 15 minutes north of Calgary, you’ll find one of the province’s largest collections of Halloween costumes, wigs and accessories. Among the year-round costume collection, your little princess will find the perfect gown, locks and tiara to complete her royal outfit. The team searches for manufacturers both local and abroad to find unique pieces; ever consider dressing as a cockroach or armadillo? Didn’t think so! They also carry costumes ranging from theatrical garb to pet outfits. (Imagine how cute Spot will look dressed like Darth Vader.) 209 Centre Ave., Airdrie.
403-948-0010; thestoreupstairs.com

Don’s Hobby Shop & Theatrical Supplies
Satisfying all your hobby and dress-up needs since 1949, Don’s Hobby Shop offers more than the regular face paint, makeup, costumes, wigs, hats, magic tricks and toys: Expert-taught makeup classes offered eight times a year. Learn professional tricks in selected themes like aging, fantasy and beauty, trauma and, of course, zombie. Kids’ costumes include everything from baby Captain Kirk to a teenage twist on a classic fairytale character: Li’l Miss Red. Two locations, Calgary. 403 262-5717; donshobbyshop.ca

The Costume Shoppe
This Calgary favourite rents out top-notch looks fit for the poshest of affairs. While big kids fit fancier rentals, smaller kids can choose from an ample selection of packaged costumes for sale including a fetching pirate, an adorable brown bear and Robin the Boy Wonder. Medieval, roaring ’20s and retro-themes are currently popular. 4307 Blackfoot Trail SE ., Calgary. 403-571-2466; thecostumeshoppe.com

Karrie’s Kostumes & Dance Supplies
Celebrating its 30th birthday this past August, Karrie’s has gone through a major expansion over the years to accommodate two levels and
5,000 square feet of dance wear and costumes for sale and rent. Hilarious classics rule here: Bananas and hot dogs are all best-sellers. The clincher? The staff includes a seamstress, makeup artist and costume history buff to make sure that banana is just right. New on shelves is a deluxe Stormtrooper costume that any Star Wars buff will love. 2001 Gervais Rd., St. Albert. 780-460-2626; karrieskostumes.ca

Chuckles Unlimited
Enter with caution at this store where you’ll be greeted at the door by Chuckles the Creepy Clown and giant spiders and skeletons that hang from the rafters. Kids can check out Iron Man and Transformers costumes in the stocked children’s department. Or tickle their funny bone and stop by the joke section; they’ve got fart machines, shocking pens, stink bombs and candy that turns unsuspecting mouths bright blue. Gotcha! #40, 6130 – 1A St. SW ., Calgary. 403-252-8465; chuckles.ca

The Theatre Garage
As the only year-round costume store in the city,The Theatre Garage is run by seasoned professionals, including a seamstress who specializes in historical garb and was the head of wardrobe for the Edmonton Shakespeare festival last year. If they don’t have it as one of 11,000 rentable pieces, including Santa costumes come Christmas (or for a very clever Halloween costume), they’ll figure out a way to make it. Now that’s service! 10570-109 St., Edmonton. 780-498-6208; theatregarage.ca

Saskatchewan

Halloween Alley
The largest independently-owned costume store in the country is not all bad blood and gore; Halloween Alley gives back to communities and non-profits through its fundraising program. Affordable costumes in all shapes and sizes (including ones for the dog, who’d look great as Where’s Waldo?) ensure there’s something for the whole family. September to October: 805 Circle Dr. (and other locations), Saskatoon. 306-652-4400; halloweenalley.ca

The Costume Emporium
From toddlers to adults, this costume selection is the largest in the province. But it’s Halloween when they really go batty – 12-foot monsters greet you at the door, life-size zombies and ghouls hang out, and live performances from a few celebrity zombies (like Elvis and Michael Jackson) have been known to happen. We love the $1 treat bags and five-piece “undead” rock band performing live as you peruse more than 2,400 costumes for sale this season. 1905 Dewdney Ave., Regina. 306-525-3233; costumesregina.com

McNally Robinson
An independent bookstore may not be the first thing that pops in your head come All Hallows Eve, but a fine selection of kids’ dress-up gear makes this shop a great pick in a pinch. Tutus and tiaras, a line of kid’s masks, lab coats, chef hats and an impressive stash of fake moustaches land this bookshop a spot on our list. 3130 8th St. E., Saskatoon. 800-561-1833; mcnallyrobinson.com

Manitoba

Party Stuff
Winnipeg’s “home of Halloween” has three locations jammed with costumes (mostly prepackaged and ready to go, like Snow White and Super Mario). DIYers will be equally psyched: This shop’s enviable accessories collection has thousands and thousands of items (including more than 600 hats and wigs) and is perfect for the pirates and long-locked princesses dominating 2012. Three locations, Winnipeg. 800-265-7368; partystuff.ca

Gags Unlimited
One of the oldest party stores in the province, this Halloween shop is a little weird and different – and proud of it. Life-sized electric chairs, operation tables and zombies are sure to make your house the creepiest on the block. Kids costumes are special-ordered in and the most coveted one this season is Batman. 209 Osborne St., Winnipeg. 204-453-0133; gagsunlimited.com

Whooo’s That?
Housed in the loft of a circa 1922 renovated barn, Whooo’s That? stocks thousands of costumes in all sizes, mostly hand sewn by owner Elly Sotas. She’s created them for as long as she can remember, and has been renting them since 1997. Her weirdest creations? An igloo, followed by three crabby apple trees inspired by The Wizard of Oz. Kids’ costumes usually range from $15 to $25. By appointment, Birtle. 204-842-3616; whooosthat.com

Ontario

Malabar
Older kids and teens flock to this hip spot off Toronto’s Queen Street for theatrical costumes (for sale and rent), 1,000 sets of vampire fangs and three kinds of fake blood. Since 1927, they’ve been employing showbiz staff, like makeup artists, actors and dancers, who are experts on current costumes. This year is all about the men, with a wide selection of costumes for wannabe knights, ninjas and inflatable sumo wrestlers; there’s no shortage of flapper and kitten costumes for women. 14 McCaul St., Toronto. 416-598-2581; malabar.net

Marcucci Costume Studios

Milton’s only costume shop may be smaller than the October-only superstores, but they offer much more. Marcucci has about 200 kids’ costumes and 400 for adults. Check out great Colonial and Renaissance pieces, which are popular with young and old, plus a massive line of wigs and thousands of accessories. This store is open all year long, making it a go-to spot for kids’ projects. 885 Main St. E., Milton. 905-878-1504; marcuccistudios.com

Candy’s Costume Shop
Open all year, this girls’ dress-up heaven features professional and high-quality makeup lines, rhinestone jewelry, fascinators and tiaras, and even a line of elaborate handmade masquerade masks. Boys won’t be left out, though, as vampire-hunting kits, black cauldrons and animatronic zombies are sure to spook. Hundreds of kids’ costumes include hippies, SWAT police, gladiators, cheerleaders, nuns and Martha Washington. 511 Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto. 416-487-5794; candyscostumeshoponline.com

Hollywood Tickle Trunk
With both vintage clothing and costumes, there’s something for everyone at this superstore that’s open seven days a week. Their slogan is “Stop looking, we’ve got it!” but if they don’t, they’ll order and deliver anywhere in Ontario. Especially awesome ensembles make it to their wall of fame, where the Grinch, Shrek and Fiona, and a family getup of The Incredibles are, well, incredible! 1590 Dundas St. E., Mississauga. 905-212-7772; hollywoodtickletrunk.ca

Theatrix Costume House
With more than 50,000 costumes and 46 years of first-rate experience in the film-and-television industry, Theatrix (located in the 1920s Eaton’s stables) rents just about everything from Abe Lincoln to Cleopatra costumes. And if they don’t have it, a staff of designers and craftspeople can create it. Less ambitious Halloweeners, however, should visit the retail corner, where prepackaged costumes are yours to keep. Their stock is always changing, so be sure to grab what you like. 165 Geary Ave., Toronto. 416-977-3113; theatrixcostumehouse.com

Kids Costumes
A fixture for nearly 30 years, this year-round dress-up spot is truly unique. Besides all the usual prepackaged costumes and accessories, they make a large percentage of their outfits, including custom orders, on-site. Made-to-order ensembles lend themselves perfectly to pairs’ themes: Pig and cow, chicken and duck, and, of course cat and mouse (complete with oversized cheese). Mom and Dad are out of luck, though; just as the name says, it’s all kids’ costumes, all the time. 539 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Toronto. 416-484-1940; kidscostumes.ca

Queen of Hearts Costumes
The fantastic staff at this store can teach you everything from wig care to zombie makeup for every occasion. They’ll also provide you with your own personal spooky shopper. New this season is the Cushzilla (a soft onesie animal costume available in kid and adult sizes) and an armada of superheroes, so drop in for a visit or it’s off with your head. 91 King St. N., Waterloo. 519-886-0014; queenofheartscostumes.ca

Amazing Party & Costume
Most stores offer wigs and hats and makeup, but Amazing Party & Costume has a whole wall devoted to each, not to mention a few thousand costumes. Brand new this season are Monster High, G.I. Joe and Ninja Turtles. Check out the hilarious toddler section, where a one-piece Little Chicken costume will make for prime wedding slideshow material one day. 923 Oxford St., Etobicoke. 416-259-5959; amazingpartystore.com

Quebec

Creations Face-À-Faces
Master costume designer Patrick Lavallée has created the largest and most luxurious collections of New France costumes – we’re talking tricorn hats, frock coats and fitted vests. They’ve even been the official provider for Quebec City’s “Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France” for 17 years. Get in on the action by renting one of their 2,000 costumes – mostly adult, but small sizes fit older kids – available for this Halloween season. 225 av Eugène-Lamontagne, Quebec City. 418-522-4087; costume123.com

Imaginaire
This massive 8,000-squarefoot warehouse (staffed by 40 enthusiastic employees), is home to Halloween costumes, yes, but also comic books, T-shirts, action figures, role-playing gear, board games and medieval weapons. Don’t think they’re not big softies at heart, however, as their kids’ costumes are as cute as they come – check out Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Sesame Street’s Elmo. 2740 blv. Laurier, Sainte-Foy. 418-658-5639; imaginaire.com

Joseph Ponton Costumes
In business since 1865, Joseph Ponton was a barber who bought French actors’ costumes when they returned to Europe. Today the store sells 15,000 costumes plus accessories to bigger kids and grown-ups, including some modern-day faves Ponton wouldn’t even recognize: Jack Sparrow, Elmo and Harry Potter are 2012 picks. 480 St-François-Xavier St., Montreal. 514-849-3238; pontoncostumes.com

Nova Scotia

Ripsters
Known as the Halloween Freaks for as “far back as their zombie minds can remember,” these owners take Halloween seriously. Open year-round (and around the clock, if you count their online store), Ripsters offers special-effects makeup sessions throughout the year and every Saturday during the month of October. Always up on pop-culture trends, the store has big plans for this October, including a Justin Bieber costume, which has already hit shelves. Classics for little kids are Li’l Lady Bug, Mickey Mouse and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 622 Sackville Dr., lower Sackville, 902-252-7477, ripstershalloweenshop.ca

Ginger’s Costumes & Dancewear
Halloween costumes at Ginger’s revolve around the dancer in everyone. Little fairies and ballerinas will turn pirouettes for costumes scary and sweet. The Black Swan costume, with dark makeup and black tutus, is still a store fave. Girls looking for something more pink and perfect will love sparkling skirts and figure skating costumes. 51 Keltic Dr., Sydney. 902-539-4715 gingersdancewear.ca

The Teazer
There’s a new addition to this Maritime gift shop. “Summer Kids!” is an imaginative and educational play section featuring costumes for boys and girls (yes, it’s still going strong in October!). Handmade dress-up pieces for your kid’s tickle trunks include everything from capes and tutus to swords, plus crowns, magic wands and wings, for kids ages one to eight. 21 Edgewater St., Mahone Bay. 902-624-9097; theteazer.com

Newfoundland

Rosie the Rebel
You’ll have to control your tween girl (or your repressed teenage self ) in this fab boutique. This glam haven is full of all things vintage: Classic reproduction and alternative clothing by young entrepreneurs and designers on the rise include supercute rompers, cigarette-leg pants and Marilyn Monroe-inspired sweetheart dresses. New weekly additions from 1920s- through 1970s-style keep shelves fresh with everything you’d need for a retro costume: Bettie Page and Joan Holloway are both current crazes. 254 Water St., St. John’s. 709-237-7723; rosietherebel.com

Prince Edward Island

Owls Hollow
This bustling toys-and-games store focuses on educational fare, including costumes for kids ages three to 10. Among others, have your kid don a stethoscope to transform into a doctor, a magic wand to turn into a wizard, a space suit for an astronaut, or a red helmet and boots to become a fireman. Halloween will see the store all decked out in handmade decorations and serving tasty treats. Drop in between 1 to 3 p.m. on October 27 for a free mask-decorating event for kids. 95 Capital Dr., Charlottetown. 866-975-TOYS ; owlshollow.com

The Anne of Green Gables Store
While not a Halloween store per se, the year-round home of everything for Anne fans stocks a custom-order dress and handmade pinafore made for those big and small with premium fabrics by a local seamstress. Not-so-natural redheads can also score Anne hats with attached braids. 110 Queen St., Charlottetown. 902-368-ANNE; annestore.ca