CBC Digital Archives

Costume supplier Malabar looks beyond Halloween

Masked, bewigged and in disguise, the voices demand: "Trick or treat!" "Halloween apples!" "Shell out, shell out, the witches are out!" It's Oct. 31, a night when Canadian kids don costumes, hold parties and knock on doors in search of candy. From apple-bobbing in the country to drag queens in the city, CBC Digital Archives takes a look at changing ways of celebrating Halloween.

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The French maids and Playboy bunnies aren't flying off the racks the way they used to at costume outfitter Malabar. "Halloween used to be our Christmas," says manager Bill Tucker in this 1986 item from CBC-TV's Venture. Sales and rentals of adult costumes in October used to account for 40 per cent of the company's business. But capturing the Halloween market has become more difficult since pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart began selling costumes. Instead, Malabar has branched out to serve opera and theatre companies throughout North America.
• Spending on Halloween merchandise - costumes, decorations and candy - was about $1.5 billion in Canada in 2007. In the United States, Halloween fell sixth on the list for holiday spending that year, behind Christmas and other winter celebrations, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day.
  • Before Halloween 2008, a Vancouver children's advocacy group called attention to a relatively new category of costume for young girls: short, skimpy outfits such as "sexy nurse" and "naughty Antoinette." ("Pimp" costumes were also available for boys.) Stephanie Owen, of the group Children of the Street, said such costumes sexualized young girls. 

Medium: Television
Program: Venture
Broadcast Date: Nov. 2, 1986
Guest(s): Mike Fell, Bill Tucker
Reporter: Michael Vaughan
Duration: 3:48

Last updated: November 1, 2012

Page consulted on June 30, 2014

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