Is Owning a Costume Rental Shop as Fun as It Sounds? Sometimes…

Owning a costume rental shop is fun in many ways – and hard work in others! In this job description, a costume rental store owner describe the ups and downs of owning and managing a fancy dress shop.

Most customers are surprised that you can get such a huge assortment of costumes in a rental shop – they can come in looking one way and walk out looking like Freddy Mercury, Shrek or Marilyn Monroe! For some customers, it is the first time they have ever dressed up and they don’t know where to start. They are also surprised at the Aladdin’s Cave type of atmosphere in a fancy dress or costume rental store.

Tracey Rizvi and Mark Hunt have owned and managed Cosmic Costume Hire on New Zealand’s beautiful Kapiti Coast since 2004. Here they give us the inside scoop on what it means to own and manage a costume rental store, and offer career tips for retailers.

Job Description – Owning a Costume Rental Shop

Tracey and Mark cater for a huge range of themes for people who want to celebrate an event slightly differently. For instance, when someone is reaching a milestone such as their 40th or 50th. Birthday themes can be linked to the year they are born, the age they are turning, or their interests or surrounding landscape. Sometimes Tracey and Mark get a wedding that may have a medieval or Venetian theme, as these periods lend themselves well to having balls and banquets.

They have distinct seasons and significant events throughout the year that call for fancy dress, such as the Wellington Rugby Sevens, mid-winter (in July in New Zealand), Halloween and Christmas. But for in-between times, they have to work harder to market themselves and promote the fact that having a fancy dress party is fun and attractive.

To be a successful costume rental store owner, you need basic English and communication skills. But if you have a good grasp of history and historical figures – both ancient and more contemporary – then that is a definite plus. Otherwise, you will certainly learn on the job!

Knowing how to sew is definitely another big plus for people who want to own and manage a fancy dress retail store.

What is the Salary of a Costume Rental Shop Owner?

Tracey and Mark are the owners of Cosmic Costume Hire. Like any small business, there is no average salary for these entrepreneurs. They have to work hard to attract business and remain fresh in people’s minds.

The Best Part of Owning a “Fancy Dress Shop”

“I enjoy the bigger view of the world that costume hire opens up,” says Tracey. “We deal daily with everyone from ladies-in-waiting to Lady Gaga and it’s great to impart this knowledge to customers who often have a different idea of what Jimi Hendrix wore.”

She is also continually learning from customers who come in with unusual ideas.

Tracey enjoys dealing with people who are in a happy mood, upbeat and looking forward to having a good time. “I love it when people return costumes on Monday and say ‘that was the best party I have ever been to’ all because their costumes made a talking point!”

The Downside of Working in Retail

There is nothing major Tracey and Mark dislike about renting costumes as a career. However they find it disappointing when customers don’t look after their costumes or lose pieces that are difficult to replace. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen that often!

“Washing and ironing are part and parcel of costume rentals, and when you see a line full of washing it means you have a till full of money to pay the bills with!” say these entrepreneurs.

Career Tips for Costume Retailers

Even though costume hire is not an everyday job, retail is. If you work in retail, it is good to develop tolerance and love for your customers.

“We have learned to love even the most terse customer who is out to prove something,” says Tracey. “We love it when a grumpy person who has been forced into wearing fancy dress comes in blaming us for even existing and therefore planting the idea to have a themed party into the hosts mind. Then they leave thanking you for your help. Often they leave the shop feeling really good about themselves and actually looking forward to the party.”

Reacting with indignation to off-hand comments does nothing to promote your small business. Putting customers at ease and finding out what their problem is in the first place is the best strategy. Rising above one’s personal ego is the best career or small business tip! Even if you can’t, people can always see that you are going the extra mile.

“Customer service and giving people a great physical experience is what it is all about if we are to survive the internet age of shopping,” says Tracey.

Read 7 Tips for Small Business Owners Taking a Leap of Faith to learn what it takes to own a small business.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this fancy dress shop owner job description, please comment below…

Tracey Rizvi and Mark Hunt have been the owners of Cosmic Costume Hire since 2004. They live on the Kapiti Coast in New Zealand with their teenage children. This job description was written by Paul Callaghan, a New Zealand based freelance writer, blogger, editor and SEO marketer. Paul is available for all your writing needs and you can see more examples of his work at

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