Fort Mill Times

Sew what?! Characters welcome at Van Wyck shop

Janie Straight's shop has has an array of costumes, or she can sew one to your liking.
Janie Straight's shop has has an array of costumes, or she can sew one to your liking.

What are you going as for Halloween?

Hard-to-find costumes and custom costumes are Janie Straight's specialty.

Straight, owner of Straight Sewing Service and Costumes, offers custom made Halloween costumes for sale and rental from her home-based shop in Van Wyck.

Business is casual around Straight's shop. When customers pull into the driveway, they're greeted by a sign welcoming them and reminding them of the store's loosely determined opening hours.

"This week: Open from when I get up (between 10-12) until 7," it reads.

Inside, the shop is bursting with costumes for customers ranging from infants to adults and racks of costumes overflow onto Straight's back porch. The home-based business is perfect for Straight, who has been operating Straight's Sewing Service and Costumes for 15 years.

"I love working, but I hate going to work," straight says. "So this is great."

Halloween is Straight's busiest time of the year. More than 70 percent of the costumes are custom made by Straight, while the others are purchased or rented. Prices for the custom costumes range from $5 to upwards of several hundred dollars.

Straight also carries an array of accessories.

The most popular costume this year has been the 1950's style poodle skirt, she says. But other costumes, especially skimpy costumes for women, fly off the racks.

"What is different here, because I make them and because I am one, is that I specialize in larger costumes. I can make up to a 3X. You just can't find those," Straight says.

Some years, Straight says, she makes a special costume for herself for Halloween. This yea, she might just choose one from whatever is left over after the last-minute customers come through. This week, she shares, is "hell week," when customers flock in for last minute costumes.

While many customers wait until the last minute, the Halloween rush started earlier for her this year than in year's past. The rocky economy has had little effect on Straight's business, she says. In fact, she says her costume business is doing better this season than last.

"When the economy is bad, this business is better. Same reason movies were so popular during the Great Depression," Straight says. "Everybody wants to forget their troubles."