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

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

A new economy is being built by a younger, highly educated generation that appreciates the city’s past while embracing its future.
Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Thanks to grassroots community efforts and investments by nonprofits, foundations and developers, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a long-awaited renaissance.
PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

She says we 'Burghers must recognize our resistance to change and realize that we need to give it a chance.
Review: Willow

Review: Willow

Following a menu and interior overhaul in late 2014, Willow returns as a revitalized dining option in the North Hills.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

See 62 Years of Change in Pittsburgh With a Swipe of the Mouse

Guaranteed you will look at this more than once.
Pittsburgh Dad's Take on Super-Deflate-Gate, Parking Meter Meltdown, Hypnotic Snow

Pittsburgh Dad's Take on Super-Deflate-Gate, Parking Meter Meltdown, Hypnotic Snow

Our weekly round-up of awesome, funny, quirky posts about or from the 'Burgh.
Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to the Big Screen

Another Movie Shot & Set in Pittsburgh Headed to the Big Screen

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

New Comedy Shooting in Pittsburgh Features A-List Celebs

The cast includes three Academy Award-Winners
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

Welcome to the New Pittsburgh: A City Transformed

A new economy is being built by a younger, highly educated generation that appreciates the city’s past while embracing its future.
Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Pittsburgh's Hill District, Reimagined

Thanks to grassroots community efforts and investments by nonprofits, foundations and developers, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a long-awaited renaissance.
PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

PittGirl: Time to Let Go of the Past

She says we 'Burghers must recognize our resistance to change and realize that we need to give it a chance.
Review: Willow

Review: Willow

Following a menu and interior overhaul in late 2014, Willow returns as a revitalized dining option in the North Hills.
A Growing Rivalry on Ice: Robert Morris vs. Penn State

A Growing Rivalry on Ice: Robert Morris vs. Penn State

Two teams that clearly don't like each other are vying for bragging rights for the state.
Review: Salt of the Earth

Review: Salt of the Earth

Brandon Fisher is the latest chef behind Salt of the Earth’s modern-American dishes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags