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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Halloween costumes on a college budget

Halloween Costumes
Thrift stores offer budget-friendly options for students looking to make a costume at a minimal cost. (MICHAEL RUIZ / THE STATESMAN)

It seems like the costumes you can buy at those pop-up Halloween stores are getting increasingly expensive and are of such low quality that they end up in tatters halfway through their first Halloween party.

There were so many Honey Boo Boo sashes on the floor over the weekend at a local Halloween Party that they seemed like part of the decor. And do not step too close to any pointy corners in your Katniss Everdeen jump suit, or you will add that battle-tested look to the outfit.

That might work aesthetically, but it will not make for a comfortable hike home in the nighttime chill.

There are places budget-conscious students can go besides Halloween City, which set up shop a bit farther away from campus than usual this year. It is normally near the Smith Haven Mall. This year, it is all the way in Selden, about 20 minutes East of its location 12 months ago.

Party City, across the street from the movie theater on Hallock Road in Stony Brook is an obvious go-to, but the costumes are cheaply made from vinyl and plastic and actually cost about the same as those at the seasonal pop-ups.

For do-it-yourselfers who want something sturdy enough to make it home from a Halloween party in one piece, there are more creative options.

Island Thrift, a massive second-hand store located on Middle Country Road in Centereach, is stocked with aisle after aisle of interesting items so you can “Boo on a budget,” as one shopper said.

“This is our first year open for Halloween,” said store manager Ana Hochberg. “I don’t really know if we’re going to sell too many costumes.”

A quick look around the store revealed that she would sell several.

“Look at the wealth,” said Brett Fowler, the regional manager for, who was shopping for a Sons of Anarchy costume. “You can’t buy this type of originality, and it’s better than a $50-60 cheaply made thing that barely fits you.”

Fowler picked up boots, jeans, a studded belt and some smaller accessories for less than the cost of a flimsy vinyl version of a biker outfit from a chain store, he said.

Another shopper, Kathy Carmody, was piecing together costumes for both of her young children.

“I’m looking for sunglasses and jeans that I can rip a little,” she said. “They’re going as punk rockers.”

For other college student budget options, there are some other stops to shop.

Another thrift store, the Goodwill shop a bit further East, also on Middle Country Road, even has a section for second-hand Halloween costumes. Though they are as cheaply made as the new versions available at chain stores, they are half the price.

At a weekend Halloween party, one masked attendee showed up in a recycled inflatable penis costume, with the lower end painted blue. A couple wore second-hand clothes and wigs to go as Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World. A young woman bought a thrift-store prom dress, covered it in theatrical blood, and went as the perennial Halloween horror girl, Carrie.

There is also a Marshalls and a Burlington Coat Factory across the street from Party City. Both stores of clearance sections with items for as low as $5.

That is where Thea Kaspar pieced together the costume for her unemployed friend, who did not want to be identified as unemployed. She bought two outfits off the clearance rack at Marshall’s for about $20, then sewed them together.

“He was half Wall Street trader, and half a bum,” she said.

To complete the costume, he only shaved half his face. In case you were wondering, the cheapest place around here to buy razors is CVS, where you can get a pack of two dozen for less than you would pay for a pint of beer at The Bench.

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