Thrifty Thurston Hunts For Costumes For A Cent

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Start planning ahead for Halloween costumes by shopping at local thrift stores.


By Kathryn Millhorn

duncan sponsorHalloween is one of my favorite holidays because whether rich or poor, there’s always fun to be had.  And while I may be 30-mumble years old, I still dress up every year.  Sometimes I recycle a simple alligator hat and green shirt; sometimes it’s a full head-to-tail costume (which can make the carpool to preschool even trickier).

Assembling an affordable costume can vary by a few factors: new or used, adult or child, full-body or piecemeal, family function or late-night/date-night.  Once you’ve decided those, the rest is simple.

olympia halloween costumes
Shopping the thrift stores is a great option for sourcing low cost Halloween costumes.

There are several specialized costume shops in our area, offering high-quality outfits with all the trimmings.  Creative Costumes in Olympia offers everything from medieval garb to a selection of brightly colored zoot suits.  Their quality is detailed and authentic for those of the masquerade ball persuasion.

Mid-cost, new costumes can be found at many locations in Thurston County.  Party City, Spirit Halloween Superstore, and Value Village all offer tremendous selections of new, mid-priced ($50 and lower, for the most part) costumes which are complimented with wigs, shoes, make-up, and accessories for baby to adult.  Their selection often sells out quickly, especially if you want an entire matched-set look from the same manufacturer, so shop early.  They also offer coupons and sales, usually given as bag-stuffers for return shoppers.  Value Village, especially, offers discounts via email to their club members or for donations of used items.

My favorite, however, is treasure hunting.  That’s where you hit local thrift and variety stores and build a unique costume from the bits and pieces found.  Goodwill, Value Village, and even the Grocery Outlet offer racks of costume pieces as a foundation.  From there you can accessorize with jewelry or accessories from the Dollar Tree (they have LOTS, especially for younger children), thrift stores (check out the rows of used costumes at Value Village on a Monday when you could find 99¢ deals), or one of the Halloween superstores that pop up seasonally.

halloween costume olympiaThrift stores take advantage of their uniqueness by putting together racks of costume possibilities: unusual garments, uniforms and scrubs, vintage clothes, or seasonal t-shirts.  I find it’s worthwhile to have multiple kids costumes stashed away to deal with unexpected rain, sun, or growth spurts.

Even area grocery stores get in on the action by offering Halloween candy baskets, face paints, flashlights, accessories, and all those little tidbits that make a costume complete.  Just don’t get side-tracked by the fresh crop of Honeycrisp apples or tailgate specials like I do.

After the fact, some shops offer a costume exchange program.  Seattle’s Buffalo Exchange offers an extra credit for outfits sold back after Halloween.  Their used merchandise is carefully inspected for quality so that’s an easy way to earn some additional winter clothes.

While October in the South Sound can be a mixed bag, thankfully we have Halloween options galore.  For any budget, weather anomaly, or occasion, there are shops to meet every need, want, or desire.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

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