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 ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

Grenier on playing the dream role of Willy Loman, coming to Pittsburgh and performing at the renowned Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

The nearly 80-year-old murals by Maxo Vanka show an immigrant's’ perspective on important issues.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

The “Father of Transplantation” created a pioneering medical center and a city transformed by medicine.
The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Winger Conor Sheary emerges as a constant scoring threat and tenacious on-ice presence.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

The latest outpost of the small, Wexford-born chain isn't flashy, but offers good beer and grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

Reviews of "Free Fire," "Unforgettable" and "The Promise," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments