Costume shops await crowds

This Saturday, Costumes on Haight, a well-known San Francisco outfit outlet, is geared to experience one of its busiest days of the year.

Normally, one would assume a store specializing in costumes would be relatively quiet, considering Halloween is still more than five months away. However, this Sunday is Bay to Breakers. The 7.46-mile race through The City is well known not only as a sporting event but as a chance for hundreds of slightly depraved citizens to dress in outfits normally associated with a New Year’s masquerade ball or Mardi Gras festivities.

“The Saturday before the Bay to Breakers, is, outside of the Halloween season, one of our five busiest days of the year,” said store manager Chuck Nicklow, who has been at Costumes on Haight for five years. “Everybody we have works on that day. It’s definitely an all hands on deck sort of thing, because we need all the help we can get. For example, last year there was a big group doing a pirate theme, so we sold over 400 pirate costumes just for the weekend.”

Nicklow did not have exact figures on the jump in sales the stores sees due to Bay to Breakers, but, because Costumes on Haight is a local sponsor of the event, he said they see a steady flow of people coming into the store based on recommendations by race officials. In turn, Costumes on Haight provides a discount to customers with racing bibs who are officially participating in the run.

Costume stores are not the only businesses in the city to get a windfall from the race. Others get a boost based on their proximity to the race route. The Starbucks at 201 Spear St. near Embarcadero usually caters to the Financial District crowd and tends to have slow weekend sales. But on Sunday, the location will have its maximum number of employees on hand in preparation for the crowds expected to flow in from the nearby starting location of the race.

“We usually have three people opening the store at 6:00 a.m., but on Sunday we will have seven people by 5:30 a.m.,” said the store’s assistant manager Bertha Mondragon. “We plan on selling plenty of juice, water, and coffee by 10:00 a.m. We want to be prepared, because we all know the people coming in will be just a little crazy.”

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