With thousands of high-end costumes, masks and wigs to choose from, business owner Richard Adler says it’s not hard to find the perfect Halloween disguise at his West Palm Beach shop.
While seasonal Halloween stores and big box chains have cornered the retail costume market, Adler’s shop on Parker Avenue just south of Southern Boulevard is one of only a few in the county offering high-end costume rentals.
Adler’s shop, which also doubles as a magic store, carries everything from a $1,500 supreme edition Darth Vader costume to turn-of-the-century ballgowns to full-size mascots. And unlike some other retailers, Adler said scary clown suits, which have sparked controversy after a string of hoax threats at schools across the country, will still be available at his store — Mr. A’s Magic & Costume Shop.
“I am not taking them off the shelves,” said Adler, a West Palm Beach native who also works as a magician, ventriloquist, balloon artist and fire eater under the stage name The Amazing Mr. A. “Come on. It’s Halloween.”
Adler says the quality of his costumes set his store apart from other retail outlets. Adler’s staff has upgraded masks, added accessories and enhanced the embellishments on many of the costumes to make them look more life-like.
“We do better quality stuff,” Adler said. “You can rent them for the price it would be to buy something.”
Adler opened his first costume and magic shop in 1982, but not in West Palm because competition was too stiff. There were already five costume/magic shops around town, so Adler settled on a storefront in Okeechobee City where his family owned property.
Adler moved Mr. A’s Magic & Costume Shop to West Palm Beach in 1991. In addition to the store, Adler also designs and rents out a number of Halloween props, which are stored in a nearby warehouse.
Among Adler’s props: automated zombies, full-sized coffins and an electric chair. There are portraits with moving eyes, which Adler painted and designed himself. And the parts for Adler’s current project, a moving shovel designed to look like it is digging bones from a grave site.
Several of his props will be used for hunted houses in Wellington and Palm Beach.
“I have everything you could imagine for a haunted house,” Adler said. “Everything has been modified and decorated. I have things that move with air. I have things move electronically. I am always working on new props.”
Adler said families can rent five or six of his items for the same amount they would spend on one or two decorations at a retail chain. That includes scary clown items. Those props are still available, too.
Halloween spending is expected to hit a record-breaking $8.4 billion this year, up from $6.9 billion from 2015, according to the National Retail Federation. More than 171 million Americans are planning to celebrate the holiday this year, spending an average of $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the federation.
So far, Adler said business has been off to a slow start, but he expects a surge of customers in the days leading up to Halloween.
Star Wars costumes are expected to be among the most popular this year. In the wake of Prince’s death, the shop also recently put together a costume for those who want to dress up as the singer.
Selim Salguero, Adler’s friend and employee, said staffers can even help piece together costumes that have been dreamed up by shoppers.
He points to a customer who came in looking for a cow costume, a halo and angel wings.
“They went as a holy cow,” Salguero said.