- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - After 30 years of making a business out of playing dress-up, Fringe & Tassel is emptying its closets.

And closing its front door, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2bKgtET ) reported.

The narrow storefront under the O Street viaduct, where Lincoln shopped for Halloween costumes and school plays, masquerade balls and Christmas parties, will close Saturday, said owner Phyllis Spahn.

Spahn and her husband Tom bought the fledgling business in 1986, and purchased the building that housed it a few years later.

“We had a Dairy Queen and we sold it and had a few extra funds to invest,” Spahn said. “I had been working at the Playhouse on costumes and this seemed like a good fit.”

In a 1994 interview, she told a Lincoln Journal Star reporter that running a costume shop - mending and ordering and sorting and laundering and staying on top of the latest costume trends - could be a grind. “It’s time consuming,” she said.

It’s more time consuming now. Tom died more than a decade ago, and the responsibility is all hers.

The 80-year-old recently sold the building and the new owners have new ideas for the space, and a deadline for her to move her inventory out.

“My feelings were, I’m not real young anymore and the idea of packing up and moving to another location didn’t seem viable. So now was the time to call it a day.”

That means the costumes are going, going, going, although still far from gone.

Employees began spreading word of the business closing on Facebook a few months ago and Spahn has made some phone calls of her own to loyal customers.

“I have sold more than half of my Santa suits, and the same with the Easter bunnies.”

Business has been steady as the prices dip, and recently a group from California came in and hauled away a sizable amount, Spahn said.

A woman with a photography studio snatched up some costumes for props, and a few of the smaller theaters have been in bargain shopping.

“But to look at the inventory, you’d never know.”

Among the finds remaining: Scooby Doo, SpongeBob, Wonder Woman and Carnac the Magnificent, along with hats and capes and cocktail dresses, old-fashioned men’s shirts and pants and loads of props and costume accessories, all on sale.

The store has two full-time employees - Paul Pearson and Margy Ryan, both staples in the theater scene - who will be out of a job when Fringe & Tassel is no more.

Ryan plans to find another costume-related gig. Maybe at a formal-wear shop or, better yet, she might start her own custom-made costume business specializing in “steampunk and faeries.” She bemoaned the end of the quaint and crowded shop in the south Haymarket.

“The loss of my job is insignificant compared to the pain and loss I feel about this resource being lost to the community … it hurts my heart to think it will be gone.”

Spahn will miss her longtime employees, she said, and her regulars.

But she plans to stay busy helping at her church and selling some of her vintage clothing on eBay.

Her two grown children are heading to town to help her pack and sort what’s left after Saturday. Some of the remaining inventory will go home with Spahn, some will go into storage. Look for a fresh haul of menswear at the Goodwill soon.

And Halloween will not be quite the same this year for Spahn, or for Lincoln.

“A number of people have said, ‘Where are we going to go now?’” she said. “I’m sure they’ll find some place.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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