By late Thursday afternoon, "pirate day" at Celebrations was in full swing, with a half-dozen employees roaming the store wearing eye patches, bandannas and ruffled sleeves.
"We try to pick a theme each day so it's more fun for all of us," said Dana Jewell, a clerk at the party supply and costume store. "But right now, we're just trying to show off all the rentals. So, yes, it's pirate day."
The costumes add to Celebrations' pre-Halloween bustle, as groups of friends roam the store looking for pre-made outfits or ideas to spark their own creations. Although one group joked that Batman and Robin might be a popular pairing this year because of box office success for "The Dark Knight," shoppers Kim White and Chelsea Stankus looked for prefabricated, weather-appropriate options.
"It's easier - you can get it over with and have it done, you know?" White said about her allegiance to costumes that pack everything essential into a medium-sized plastic sack. As White and Stankus found three or four costumes each to try out, Ginger Scott was having less luck finding a costume for her 2-year-old daughter, who - her 5-year-old son Jackson explained - wants to be a turtle Oct. 31.
"I'm having trouble finding a turtle though," Scott said, adding that Jackson's Halloween ninja costume was easier to come by. The family ordered a black body suit and harm-free weapons kit online.
Aside from the always-popular option of dressing up in exaggerated styles from the 1950s, '60s or '70s, Jewell and Celebrations employee Krista Garamandi said political masks have gone fast this season. Rubber likenesses of a grinning Barack Obama, a sort-of-smiling John McCain and an "Inconvenient Truth"-era Al Gore line a rack in the back of the store. Anyone hoping to spend Halloween disguised as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin or Joe Biden will be left to his own devices, Jewell said.
"Because the vice presidential picks get announced so much later, the company that produces our Obama masks and our McCain masks just didn't have time to make a Sarah Palin or a Joe Biden," she said. The store also has had trouble meeting a sudden increase in demand for thick-sided eyeglasses with phantom rims - Celebrations hasn't gotten anything in stock that resembles the previously un-sought-after style.
"We've had a lot of people coming in to see if they could do Sarah Palin," Jewell said. "And I hate to say it, but it's the one costume we haven't been able to help people with."