Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year, because dressing up is one of my favorite things in the world. For some, it’s the lure of pumpkins, candy, spooky stuff, cool weather, and pretty colored trees that lead them into the season, but for me… it’s the first whiff of spirit gum announcing that, hey, “Halloween has arrived!”
It is also the time of year when I get to spend the most time (ok, AND money) shopping at one of my favorite places in Hampton Roads – Echoes of Time (who is sponsoring this article, but who I genuinely love.)
The store is a mix of modern and vintage clothing, costumes, shoes, and accessories. Mardi Gras masks, faux cigarettes for your Beatnik costume, gallons of stage blood, eerie contact lenses, and packaged costumes line the walls, with racks and racks (and racks) of vintage clothing for rent or for sale, as well as more elaborate modern rentable costuming pieces. This year, the most popular characters are coming from horror movies, like scary clowns, and people piecing together medieval garb for their chosen character from Game of Thrones.
The author’s children, with costumes from the shop.
Harley Quinn has been a popular costume for a couple of years now for the ladies and still is, but store manager Ashley says that the trend has moved away from “sexy” costumes for women lately. “People want to get something different these days, and put together their own costumes,” she said.
And every time I come in, there is something new. Most recently they have added a large line of clothing that most people would wear day-to-day and an initial half rack of 40s and 50s Rockabilly-style dresses has grown to two full racks. The dresses are reasonably priced at $50 to $150 and are brightly printed, full skirted and available in sizes up to 2X.
“It’s a real problem with vintage clothing, the demand is lower because the sizes are so small,” said owner Cathy. “If you find a vintage size 12, you have hit the jackpot, but in modern sizing, that is still only a 6/8.”
She also had maybe some of the best news I have heard in a long time – Echoes of Time is partnering with one of their vendors, providing him with real vintage clothing to copy and produce in an expanded size range.
And I will buy them all, trust me.
While the store is certainly busiest around this time of the year, unlike other Halloween supply places that pop up in September and shut down November 1st, Echoes stays open and provides the community with dress-up resources all year long. They supply props and costumes for local school drama productions and for small theaters. They have outfitted 20 cowboys/girls/ladies… (cow-folk?) for a production of ‘Annie, Get Your Gun’ and they are usually on standby to open early for participants in the Hampton Roads 48 Hour Film Festival.
Cathy is always hunting for something new and interesting to add to the eclectic collection at the store, and recently she was able to purchase the last thing you would possibly expect to be on the menu at a Virginia Beach yard sale: a 1989 Cadillac Hearse. It is emblazoned with classic horror movie characters and is quite eye-catching. “Initially,” Cathy said, “They (AG Wraps, the company who decorated the car) created a design that was Freddie and Jason and it was too modern, not what I wanted. So, they redesigned it based on my shirt!” (which is covered in early 20th Century movie monsters like Dracula, Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein).
“Because we wanted to go more classic, older,” she said. “We did start out as solely a vintage shop.”