116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — After collecting and sewing about 6,000 rental costumes, Balloons Etc and the Costume Emporium in downtown Cedar Rapids is downsizing its costume rental business.
Jacob and Kimberly Cowger, owners of costume and balloon shop at 420 Second Ave. SE, are selling off their curated costume stock. The sale started Monday.
“It’s tough to see them go, I worked very hard to build this up and have a quality costume shop,” he said. “A lot of these are all handmade costumes.”
Jacob said the downsizing comes after unsuccessful efforts in finding adequate staff to repair and resew the intricate costumes.
The business opened as a balloon shop in 2004 on Center Point Road, and reopened following the 2008 flood. Costumes were added to the store when it moved to its current location in 2011.
“We’re still going to keep packaged costumes and makeup and wigs and accessories, but the more elaborate and higher priced costumes are going to go,” he said. “It will take a little bit to get rid of them all, unless someone comes in and takes racks and racks of them, which I have seen happen”
Kimberly said since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been hard to predict what the future is for the business.
“This just seems to be the direction we are going right now,” she said. “Hopefully we sell a lot by Halloween.”
All costumes — except Christmas and Easter-themed costumes — are for sale.
“We were originally going to start with the Easter bunny and Santas,” Jacob recalled. “We’re going to continue to rent those because we want to keep that tradition going. I had a hard time when it came to that.”
Jacob is one of the Santas in the Cedar Rapids area. Jacob and Kimberly also perform as Sparkles and Sprinkles the Clowns and professional balloon twisters known as the Balloon Buffoons.
A few theaters and haunted houses in Iowa reached out to Jacob about buying the costumes, but no deal is final yet, he said.
Jacob said he and his wife both saved a couple of their favorite costumes for themselves, including a Mad Hatter, Belle and Anna from the Disney animated movie “Frozen.”
“With me being a clown, I would have to say the clown is my absolute favorite. The mascot characters are another one, just because they are larger than life” he said.
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