If you’re like me, you’ve already received a few Halloween costume catalogs in the mail from retailers like BuyCostumes.com or Party City. Take a look at them, and you might notice something weird.
The costumes are the same. The photos are the same. In fact, a handful of costume manufacturers are behind 80% of the costumes you see out there. Knowing that will allow you to save big, because although the costumes are the same, the prices are not.
Take the toddler Captain America costume shown here. It’s distributed by a company called Buy Seasons. The photo top left is from OrientalTrading.com, where it’s $20.77 right now. The image at right (hauntingly familiar, eh?) is from Target.com, where the same costume is on sale for a low $15.97. As of this writing, it’s $19.99 at BuyCostumes.com, $22.09 at Kmart.com, $24.28 at Amazon and $21.24 at Kohls.com. Walk into other retailers and you’ll see the same costumes on the racks.
The lesson? When you see the costumes you (or your kids) want, don’t buy them then. Find the brand name (look for something capitalized), Google it, and do some bargain shopping. Many stores are offering discounts of up to 30% right now on costumes and free shipping to boot.
Some stores, like Disney Store and Pottery Barn Kids have more unique costumes that aren’t carried everywhere, so keep that in mind, too.
(Of course for the best bargains, there’s still time to shop your favorite second hand sources–kiddie consignment stores, Craigslist, ebay, thrift stores, and even Freecycle.)