Halloween 2012: What are you wearing?

Arc’s Value Village stores provide creative ideas at a low cost


Pirate, zombie bride or superhero, if you have the patience to browse the components to those costumes are likely to be found in the “Halloween Boo-tique” at Arc’s Value Village stores.


Employees in the “Boo Crew,” who wear orange shirts at the Arc’s Value Village stores in Brooklyn Center, New Hope, Richfield, and St. Paul are there to help.

Brooklyn Center Boo Crew employee Breann Raeker sorts items in the dress aisle of Halloween costumes. (Photo by Katy Zillmer)
Brooklyn Center Boo Crew employee Breann Raeker sorts items in the dress aisle of Halloween costumes. (Photo by Katy Zillmer)

They restock and sort the aisles daily, and keep the Halloween goods organized by size, style, age, and gender. Not to mention the well-placed accessories of shoes, hats, wigs, make-up and more to match those categories.

Planning for Halloween season is year-round at Arc’s Value Village, culminating with a one-day event in September to sort donations and new items, said Brooklyn Center Store Manager Brookstyn Nelson.

Staff stow away items donated to the stores that may be appropriate for Halloween throughout the year and then, with the help of hundreds of volunteers at “A Celebration of Sorts,” organize and distribute the items to the four locations by mid-September.

Accessories, new and donated, are available at Arc’s Value Village to complete the perfect Halloween costume. (Photo by Katy Zillmer)
Accessories, new and donated, are available at Arc’s Value Village to complete the perfect Halloween costume. (Photo by Katy Zillmer)

Nine years ago donations at the stores would yield about 40,000 items for Halloween, and it has since grown to 150,000, Nelson said. To accommodate the amount of masks, funky prom dresses and plaid shirts perfect for a cowboy outfit, the sorting event has moved from the Brooklyn Center store parking lot to Southdale Mall, and most recently to Minnesota State Fairgrounds, she said.

October is one of the busiest sales months at Arc’s Value Village between Halloween and customers stocking up on coats and sweaters for the winter season, Nelson said.

The four “Halloween Boo-tiques” opened on Sept. 21 and customers have been shopping daily for costumes and fall décor for their homes.

“Our goal is to get through the last week before Halloween with having options for people looking for costumes and keeping the shop stocked,” Nelson said.

They are always accepting donations for that purpose to support and The Arc Greater Twin Cities’ programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Nelson said the costume and seasonal goods sales total at all four locations during October is between $150,000 and $200,000, with a majority of the proceeds benefiting Arc Greater Twin Cities.


A little goes a long waY

Customers can spend a little — $15 or less — on their Halloween costume to support Arc Greater Twin Cities.

Jeanne Kelley-Rosengren, the Richfield store manager, said she helped a customer find a pirate costume last week with a total price tag of $9.

The ease of shopping for Halloween at Arc’s Value Village comes not only from the store’s organization of items but also the staff’s expertise and encouragement to be creative.

“It’s kind of up to your imagination,” Kelley-Rosengren said, adding that customers should not forget items could always be modified at home with a hot glue gun, minor sewing, dye or even a stapler.

This year requests for ideas to make a Super Mario Brothers costume and standards such as fairies, witches and zombies have come in at the Richfield store, she said.

When in doubt, Kelley-Rosengren recommends for customers to imitate the outfits of people on popular reality television shows.

In Brooklyn Center and the other Arc’s Value Village locations, picture books of past costumes customers have developed from their racks are available for ideas, Nelson said.

The Boo Crew also puts together pre-made outfits for displays, such as a blue dress and devil horns for “Devil in a Blue Dress.”


Still time to shop

Parents are securing costumes for their kids and early birds have come in, Nelson said, but there are always people looking for their outfit the last days before Oct. 31.

Some may shy away from searching on the weekends, when more people have time to shop, but New Hope Arc’s Value Village Store Manager Amy Haddy said they keep the shelves stocked then too.

There are a wide selection of kids’ costumes in New Hope, which is the smallest of the four store locations, and vintage pieces that can complete a Halloween look, Haddy said.

As Breann Raeker, a Boo Crew employee in Brooklyn Center, organized costumes last week, she said customers have requested help to dress as a nerd or princess so far this year.

In Richfield, Kelley-Rosengren said it is helpful for customers with an idea for their costume to bring in a picture.

And her top advice is to allow enough time to shop for the perfect costume. “Have fun with it, Halloween is such a great time,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite times of the year.”

And when it’s all over, the “Boo-tique” space at each Arc’s Value Village location will be transformed into a Christmas holiday shop and employees will start storing Halloween costume pieces for 2013, Nelson said. Info: arcsvaluevillage.org.


Store locations:

6330 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Center; 2751 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope; and 6528 Penn Ave. S., Richfield.