How's Work?: Tailor to the Elves

Mikie Benton helps 'Burghers look like Santa and other whimsical characters year-round.




Photo by Renee Rosensteel
 

 

Name:  Mikie Benton
Home:  Middlesex Township
Job:  Costumer

 

Before opening Costumes Etc! in Butler County, how did you get started? 
My mother had a balloon business, where we delivered balloons in costumes. We had an elephant. We had a pink hippo with spots — and then a gorilla. People started asking, “Can we borrow your costumes? Can we rent your costumes?” Then it just exploded.

Who are your customers around Christmastime?
Do you sell to a lot of mall Santas?  It runs the gamut, from grandpas who want to dress up like Santa for their little grandkids to professional mall Santas. We ship all over the world.

What level of detail are customers demanding? 
We have had phone conversations that last 30 minutes. Some guys ask a lot of questions about how [the suits] are lined, [or] the color. It’s always different.

What are some of the unusual variations on the Santa outfit? 
We do a “Sunny Claus,” which is a Santa in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt — perfect for summer or beach wear [because] a lot of people do “Christmas in July” parties. We do a Victorian Santa, which has the long robe. We do an old-time Santa [that] has a hood and a jacket that hits about the knee length.

You have a line of “sexy” Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits. When did those come along? 
About eight or nine years ago. The whole sexy-costume business has exploded off the rocker. We have some that are sexy-sexy, and we have some that I call “modest sexy.” They do very well for us. People wear them to office parties.

What non-Santa Christmas costumes are popular?
Elves. We design our own elf costumes. One was used in the Hallmark Channel movie Naughty or Nice last year. Those tend to be big for us because they are good quality at a good price. Outside of that, the reindeer are popular.

What’s the best part of your job? 
Christmas customers are the nicest customers. I think to play Santa you have to be a nice person. I am always dealing with Santa, so it’s not like I ever get calls yelling and swearing.


Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

Just Released: Trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's New Movie Shot in Pittsburgh

The boxing drama "Southpaw" is set to arrive in theaters in late July.
Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

Pittsburgh’s Billy Gardell Hosts ‘Monopoly’ Game Show

The “Monopoly Millionaire’s Club” premieres this weekend.
Cutch Cuts the Locks

Cutch Cuts the Locks

The Pirates outfielder cut his hair for the first time in eight years.
Pens Honor Mike Lange for 40 Years of Unforgettable Play-by-Play

Pens Honor Mike Lange for 40 Years of Unforgettable Play-by-Play

How many of his classic calls can you recite?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
PittGirl: Preparing for a World Series Toast

PittGirl: Preparing for a World Series Toast

Thanks to her husband believing in "happy wife, happy life," PittGirl has the perfect wine to celebrate the Pirates' ultimate victory.
Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module