NORWALK, Conn. Adrianne Mayberry dresses up every day in the run-up to Halloween. On Wednesday, the clerk at Happy Daze was a cat. On Tuesday, she was an Indian with a full headdress and fringe on her shoes. On Thursday, she plans to go back to the '80s.
Her choice of business attire may seem odd, but Mayberry's job is selling Halloween costumes. She has been doing it for 20 years.
In spite of the tough times, sales don't seem much different this year, she said. Clerks at other area stores agreed.
"It seems pretty normal," said Stephen Murillo, who has been a Halloween expert at Party City on Connecticut Avenue for two years. "The popular costume is Angry Birds."
Phil Marshall of Westport, owner of Halloween Headquarters on Westport Avenue, said sales are as strong as last year, when the store was in Westport. "I really don't see a big change," he said. "People are a little more careful, and they think about it longer. They probably take a little more time to make a decision."
What's hot? "You can't resist the chicken suit," said Evan Angelastro, 16, of Westport, a clerk at Halloween Headquarters. "They're just so awesome." The giant banana suit is also popular, he said.
Marshall said people decorate their yards first, then buy costumes for the kids, and then, finally, for themselves. "The decorations go first, the big Halloween decorations and things that go howl in the night," he said. "Then it is costumes, and the Saturday and Sunday before Halloween the little things go."
At Party City, Murillo said he tried to talk a kid into something other than an Angry Birds costume and failed. Halloween is bigger than ever at Party City, as the store has expanded into space formerly occupied by Hallmark.
Mayberry said there was a run on pilot and aviator costumes at Happy Daze , located at 75 Main St. The Crystal Ball gypsies and the Catwoman costumes are all gone.
People aren't scrimping. "They're buying the entire costume and the accessories," said Mayberry.
Her co-worker, Sarah Augustyniak, also dresses up. On Wednesday, she was a woodland princess, but she took the wings off lest they get bent out of shape. "For the last three weekends and the last 10 days I dress up every day. I sell a lot of costumes doing that and it's good that I have personal experience with them. I have customers that actually come here expecting to see me dress up. This is my fifth Halloween here."
Costumes are also for rent at Happy Daze. The store is open year-round, offering seasonal holiday merchandise and renting costumes to schools for plays.
While the Catwoman suits were gone in the retail section, a young man was still hoping to get one on the rental side of the store. Failing that, he'll take a Batgirl.
He plans to spend Halloween in Las Vegas with a male friend. He expects to spend the daytime hours in a Santa Claus suit while he's gambling, "so the girls will sit on my lap." At night he and his friend will switch to costumes designed for girls.
Why? "Because no one else is doing it," he said. "I like the way it feels in women's clothes."
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