Malabar Costumier looking for a custom fit new owner

Future business owners with a passion for turn of the century fashion are implored by Malabar Costumier to step up and save the historic operation as its owner plans to retire.

Current owner of the historic costume shop hopes a young buyer with an eye for trends can take over

Future business owners with a passion for turn of the century fashion are implored by Malabar Costumier to step up and save the historic operation as its owner plans to retire.

The costume renter issued a statement asking the public to save Malabar as piece of "pan-Canadian cultural history."

Its owner, Susan Cohene, bought Malabar in 1993 after falling in love with the costumes and fabrics.

She said that at this point she feels a bit old for the costume business.

"I'd like to start to live a little bit, less hours, less stress," Cohene said.

"I'm not 'old.' But for this business, you need somebody younger who understands the Game of Thrones, animation and the internet."

Susan Cohene bought Malabar in 1993 but would now like to retire. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

In the store's statement to potential buyers, Malabar explains it's not the performing arts community that will suffer if they close, it's the general public. Where will party-goers get their Greco-Roman garb and Renaissance relics should "this Canadian heritage go?"

Marie-Michèle Jasmin-Bélisle, the store's manager, said the public has the most to lose if Malabar closes. Not only does the store have an extensive selection of costumes ranging from Southern belle to superhero, but it offers custom alterations as well.

Marie-Michèle Jasmin-Bélisle, the store's manager, shows off a favourite costume. (Kalina Laframboise/CBC)

"I think that for the public, it will be a great loss for them — for everybody," Jasmin-Bélisle said. "I think historically, it would be a really sad day if Malabar were to close."

The store's history goes back about 100 years and includes a journey from its Wild West beginnings in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Toronto and finally, Montreal.

For years the store was located in an impressive stone building in Montreal's Old Port, about a block from the iconic Centaur Theatre. But after three owners and two devastating fires it was moved to its current location on Parc Avenue. 

With files from Sarah Leavitt