Local Halloween costume store faces the real fear of online shopping
COLUMBIA — Local business owners face a spooky reality around the holiday season — the competition of online shopping.
The City of Columbia proposed budget estimated online sales caused a $17.2 million drop in local sales tax from 2010 to 2019. In 2020, the city anticipates a loss of $813,205 in sales tax because of online purchases.
That’s why Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes owner Sabrina Garcia-Rubio said she was very shocked to see sales have not dropped from last year.
“I was expecting a decline,” she said. “We know that a lot of people buy packaged costumes online somewhere. And so, having a rental experience where you can get head-to-toe props isn’t something a lot of people are aware of.”
However, sales for her store took a dip in 2018 — a dip to the tune of 50%. Garcia-Rubio said the numbers have not come back up.
The lessening revenue from sales tax impacts more than storefronts.
Revenue from sales tax helps pays for road and sidewalk repair, bus system, airport, parks, police, fire and many other services.
The city said in its proposed budget that “each year it produces less revenue than what is needed to keep pace with population growth and demands for service.” It attributes much of the trend to more purchases being made online instead of in local stores.
Garcia-Rubio says there is a noticeable benefit to shopping in-store, especially for Halloween costumes. She said both the experience and clothing quality are better.
“You can interact with your friends while getting costume,” she said. “You can interact with and stroll along with the attendant…plus the authenticity. A real fur coat to go with your Cruella De Vil versus a polyester piece.”
Garcia-Rubio plans to host a 2020 Halloween fashion show to bring more people to her storefront.
“I am trying to think of ways to put myself out there a little more to compete with people wanting to go online,” she said.
The store's values are so rooted in face-to-face interaction that Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes does not offer online purchasing as an option. A customer can peruse photos online, but the actual purchase is required to be done in person.
One customer said she’s been coming to Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes for two years.
“I would rather go to a business that I really trust that can give me a really cool costume and can give me a different idea and have really creative choices," Kelly Schoessling said. "At the same time, then I can know someone else can use it the next year."
Garcia-Rubio said the store relies on theatre departments and theme-organized events to keep the store profiting year long.
Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes rents costumes all year long.