There are only a few days until Halloween, and South Congress costume store Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds is bustling from all corners. Seasonal employee Lolly Ortiz greets those walking in Oct. 20 with a cheerful “Browsing?” and points customers in the right direction if they have something specific in mind.
Shopping at Lucy in Disguise is very much like a regular retail experience, except employees are more than prepared to help you into a giant mascot head or offer advice on which wig is most believable for a caveman costume. The store itself is a maze of rubbery masks, sequins, hats of every type and color, fake fur, fake blood and fake wounds — “a real costume shop,” as one browser declares. The only white space to be found is the occasional patch of ceiling; even the walls are covered in scraps of fabric, making a massive patchwork quilt of the store’s interior.
“This is the most fun place to play I Spy,” says Keelan Moses, who is manning the dressing room.
The store is meticulously organized alongside the natural chaos. Thousands of pieces of jewelry hanging from the wall create color-coordinated sheets and glitter behind the counter. The main room has racks of seemingly infinite costumes, from beaded flapper dresses to Chewbacca to Jackie Kennedy’s infamous pink suit. To the right, the Party Room invites shoppers to check out masks, makeup and accessories under the giant likenesses of Pikachu, a Minion and Mike Wazowski that hang from the ceiling.
Despite the chaos, the costumed employees expertly navigate the store to the monster-themed soundtrack.
Back in the dressing room, Jonathan Gomez is stepping into the body of a giant goat costume while the grinning head sits outside, waiting for him to emerge and test it out.
This isn’t the first time he’s been here, and it’s not even the first time he’s worn this goat costume. Eight years ago, he drove down from Waco and picked it out to wear in a parade and to his office. Now, he lives in Austin and is revisiting the previous hit.
“I came back for the tried-and-true billy goat,” Gomez says. “He just has this smirk.”
The costumed employees cheer as Gomez reveals he went with the billy goat over the giant parrot costume he tried on earlier.
On his way out, rental receipt in tow, he passes by Lolly Ortiz at her podium, still waving customers in and out. Some days a line reaches outside of the store. Not today, though. It’s busy, but not as busy as it will be the day of Halloween. This is a familiar scene for Hays High School senior Ortiz, whose mother has worked as seamstress at Lucy in Disguise for over 20 years and who has worked as a greeter the past two Halloweens.
“I definitely look forward to this, especially when October comes,” Ortiz says. “There’s no place like this.”
ALSO ON AUSTIN360: 19 of the most haunted places in Austin