Zombie costumes are popular - and cheap to pull off.


Halloween is a uniquely American tradition, and even as many families struggle, the average American family of four plans to spend nearly $300 to costume the family, decorate the house, buy candy and otherwise celebrate the holiday, according to a survey by Savers.

Think that sounds a little steep for your family? Don’t like the prices at traditional costume stores? Want your money to go to a worthy cause?

A few local stores promise original costumes, low prices and a constantly changing selection. Goodwill and Savers mix previously purchased costumes with new accessories to help customers save money. And even better, most of the money that these nonprofit businesses make stays in Arizona and benefits local charities.

“It’s that one time of the year when you can be crazy and creative,” said Jack Halleen, the Goodwill vice president of retail operations. “Especially in the bad economy, people can forget about their troubles and have fun.”

Some of the costumes are donated throughout the year. Others are pieces that, put together in the right way, can create the perfect Black Swan or Joker costume.

“It’s great if you want to do something outside the norm, something you can’t do at a costume shop,” Halleen said. “You can create almost any costume.”

As part of that creative mentality, Savers has costume consultants in each store to specifically help create costumes. Each day, they dress in a different costume to provide a little spark of creativity for customers.

“Halloween is such a fun holiday,” Nicole Thurston, a Savers costume consultant. “The joy for me is when customers come in and they’re looking around and they’re lost, when you can find something for them that’s perfect.”  While traditional costumes like princesses and superheroes are popular, one of the biggest trends of the year is zombies, both Thurston and Halleen said.

“There’s a lot of influence from movies and TV,” Thurston said. “Zombies are popular and that’s a lot of fun.”

Zombies are great because you can be whatever type of zombie you want to be, whether that’s a sports fanatic zombie or a rocker zombie.

“Vampires and zombies are great because it’s easy to rip up clothes,” Halleen said. And since used clothes cost considerably less than new clothes, ripping them up for one Halloween isn’t going to break the bank.

And both stores carry makeup, perfect for finishing off the zombie or vampire look. Both also have new items for sale, such as fairy wings, wigs, face paint and stockings.

The key is to match something new and something used, Thurston said. You can create elaborate costumes by pairing a new wig or wings with used shoes and costumes.

The prices, depending on the costume, can run as low as $10 or so for both kids and adults, both Savers and Goodwill representatives say. That’s well below most premade costumes from a costume shop.

On Facebook, Savers customers can submit pictures of their costume in a contest to win a $500 shopping voucher. The contest ends Nov. 11 and the winner will be announced Nov. 18.

To find Savers or Goodwill locations near you, visit savers.com or goodwill.org

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or sspring@evtrib.com

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