The Collegian
Tuesday, June 06, 2023

A Day in the Life of: A Premiere Costume Employee

"There are gonna be a lot of Sarah Palins and Jokers this year," Ronnie said.

Ronnie, a Richmond native, has been working at the treasure trove known as Premiere Costume for 25 years. The Carytown store, which is open year-round, has been making the citizens of Richmond look ridiculous for 34 years.

"It's just fun helping people live out their fantasies and dreams," Ronnie said.

In addition to Sarah Palin and Joker wigs, Ronnie said superheroes and vampires had been high-hitters this season. Obama masks had sold out once and been reordered, whereas McCain masks were selling "so-so."

The employees at Premiere start ordering costumes for Halloween in March, Ronnie said. Although October is definitely the busiest month, Christmas, Mardi Gras, Easter, school plays and projects also generate a lot of business. People of all ages love to be someone else for the day, Ronnie said.

"We have people coming in from retirement homes looking for things for a '50s -themed dance, or something like that," Ronnie said.

Costumes are available to buy and rent. If a costume is rented, it must be returned the following business day before closing. Generally Ronnie doesn't have problems with the condition in which the costumes are returned. He said he could remove most stains, but customers were expected to pay if something was destroyed or missing."

"One guy last year went to a bar in a penguin suit, and put down his head and someone went off with it," Ronnie said. "So he had to replace it for $500... The year before a guy got pushed in a bonfire and burned up his chicken head."

In addtion to costumes, Premiere also has a plethora of bizarre accessories. During our interview, Ronnie modeled some partial-skin pieces on his face. It was creepy.

If Premiere didn't have what a customer was looking for, Ronnie said he would try and order it but lots of the time he would help customers make a costume by cutting and coloring an existing wig.

"Those anime characters I sometimes have trouble helping people with," Ronnie said. "They have some strange hair. Some people have been telling us that you can dye a wig using a sharpie that's been broken open. I haven't tried it so I don't know."

Ronnie thought he would be too exhausted to dress up for Halloween this year, but he said that in the past he had been everything from a witchdoctor to a pot-head.

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"I made this flower-pot to wear on my head," he said, "and I had all these marijuana plants sticking out of it. It's a good one for the college kids."

Instead, of going out Ronnie thought he would probably spend his Friday night relaxing at home playing computer games or watching his favorite horror film, "The Birds."

"You don't need all that blood," he said. "I like the bloody movies, but that one was so scary without it"

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