Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Backstage Inc. Sees Political Blowback

Sandro Duraes, owner of Barracks Row costume shop Backstage Inc. and husband of store manager Sandy Duraes, wears a gladiator costume. The store owners said zombies are popular this year, but political costumes, traditionally a hot item, aren’t selling as well. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

At Backstage Inc., the quirky costume store on Barracks Row, political Halloween costumes are just not flying off the shelves like they used to.

Store manager Sandy Duraes said there is always a spike in sales of political masks and campaign gear during the Halloween of an election year, but this season’s increase is smaller than the rest.

“We used to sell campaign hats by the dozens. This year I sold zero,” Duraes said. “Donkey and elephant gear would also go, and not so this year.”

Duraes attributed the sartorial slump to a lack of excitement and interest because of the rancorous partisan pundits flooding the airwaves as well as a lack of gaffes that could lead to decent costume ideas.

“Last election, with Sarah Palin, that was huge,” Duraes said of costumers’ desire to dress as the former Alaska governor, GOP vice presidential nominee and hockey mom. “Everyone wants to dress as someone who says a lot of stupid things, and I don’t think either candidate has made any big gaffes.”

She did say, though, that customers have wiped her shelves clean of yellow bird masks after GOP nominee Mitt Romney mentioned the “Sesame Street” staple in the first debate.

And the few people who have taken the political route have had clever ideas, including the creative customer who wanted a Pinocchio nose adhered to a mask of Romney’s likeness.

“I think people are less interested in politics and fed up with the way the news covers politics,” Duraes said. “On Halloween, they just want to get away from it.”

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