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Valuable source for costumes

On the spooky northwest corner of Dufferin St. and Steeles Ave., one retailer is spreading its scary version of Christmas cheer to costume hunters this Halloween season.

Value Village at 1520 Steeles Ave. West in Concord specializes in donated, second-hand merchandise, including discarded fashion ghouls from deep within the dusty bowels of the closets of reformed fashionistas.

“For most retailers, Christmas is their busy time,” says Tina Guttridge-Crangle, store manager. “This is our Christmas.

“People come to us looking for some rare, unique or maybe different type of things that they wouldn’t find in regular clothing stores as they put together a costume (and) we carry tons of accessories.”

Founded in 1954 by Bill Ellison, Washington State-based Savers, Inc., parent company of Value Village, employs 10,000 people in more than 200 stores across Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

For the costume-deficient, Guttridge-Crangle says her store is full of options for both the creative shopper and the customer who would prefer the more mainstream, pre-packaged sorts of costumes like “Spider-Man and Power Rangers and Barbie princesses”. Those she has both new and used, the new ones running between $20 and $30, she adds.

For those with the courage to brave the racks of used clothes and accessories, she says a creative costume can be whipped together for under $20, some of them so terrifying that only the truly warped could have them dreamed up.

“Probably the funniest one we had was somebody came in wanting to be (exercise guru) Richard Simmons,” she says with a (horrified) laugh.

To assist with just that sort of request for help, Guttridge-Crangle has some creative and talented staff, specially trained and designated as Costume Coordinators.

“I’ve got one team member that does an excellent job, too,” she says. “One year she put together a Lucille Ball costume and she was Mother Nature last year.”

Though a regular retailer, Guttridge-Crangle says, Value Village stores don’t get their merchandise through regular wholesaling or distribution channels. Instead, each store buys in bulk from any of 120 charity partners that collect donated items in the three countries the company operates in.

According to Savers, the relationship between retailer and charity results in more than US$117 million going to the various non-profits annually — perfect for the socially conscious costume connoisseur.

“My store in particular, we get our product from the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy,” she says. “There are other stores within Toronto that get it from the Canadian Diabetes Association and there are other charities that we’ve worked with like Oasis and Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

With only a few days until the Halloween moon once again rises over Vaughan, Guttridge-Crangle is helping to alleviate the fears of the costume-less by extending her hours — Value Village is open until 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and on Sunday until 6 p.m.

Vaughan Today
In print: Friday, October 26, 2007
Page: 12
Section: Vaughan Style
Byline: Philip Alves