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Costume store gives Gainesville taste of Halloween year-round

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:25 am | Updated: 12:14 am, Thu Sep 5, 2013.

Just four doors down from a busy Starbucks is a store not much bigger than a closet. Inside are vintage blouses, clocks and pearled purses. The small space echoes with music, and around this time of year it specializes in vintage Halloween costumes dating from the '70s to the present.

Persona Vintage Clothing & Costumes at 201 SE Second Place contains an array of unique vintage items and Halloween costumes not found at typical costume stores.

Halloween costume stores, notorious for opening around the holiday and closing their doors after the holiday, sell isles upon isles of the same costumes from previous years; However, Persona has been opened for 32 years, offering Gainesville a taste of Halloween all year-round.

The second floor of the boutique has racks of unique costumes lining the walls, including characters from famous movies like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." The pirate, flapper and gangster costumes are most popular among customers.

All 1,000 Halloween costumes at Persona Vintage are authentic, theatrical costumes including storybook characters, nationalities and superheroes. The '70s disco, Victorian ladies and pirate are the more unique costumes at Persona, according to store-owner Nava Ottenberg.

"Our costumes are really detailed; they're not just catalog stuff but real materials and real good craftsmanship," Ottenberg said. "They're the real thing. They're legit."

Ottenberg accumulated her collection during many years of traveling, visiting theaters, costume houses and hand-picking pieces to sew together.

She focuses heavily on the fitting of each costume on her customers by mismatching pieces for the perfect fit, which she considers an advantage over costumes purchased at other stores.

Customers can rent and reserve costumes for up to three calendar days after purchase. Ottenberg also lends her costumes to local school plays, photo shoots and private parties.

Francesca Antoine, 21, an anthropology and zoology junior, was referred to Persona Vintage by one of her friends.

"I'm definitely buying my Halloween costume for this year here," Antoine said. "That way I know no one will have the same thing is as me."

 

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