October 2009 Issue
Dressing in Disguise
A light bulb, pirate Jack Sparrow and the Fruit of the Loom grapes make for a rather motley crew.
However strange the combination may seem, each is fairly typical of the assortment of costumes (upwards of 15,000) that fill the 15,000-square-foot Akron Design & Costume Co.
“The whole world is a costume,” insists owner Debbie Meredith, referring to some of the wildly unusual disguises the store carries, including a hand, beehive, penguin and pickle suit.
And if Akron Design doesn’t carry it, Meredith can make it. After all, she and a handful of assistants make all the costumes there, well, by hand.
The idea for the business was born in 1978, when Meredith decided to share her longtime love of creating Halloween attire. She sharpened her sewing skills and went to work making and renting costumes out of the basement of her Portage Lakes home.
“I didn’t realize that it would end up consuming my life,” she chuckles.
After renting out 500 costumes in one weekend, Meredith decided the time had come to move to larger quarters. She opened Akron Design & Costume in 1980.
Today, Meredith and her staff sell and rent masquerade garb and mascot suits, as well as standard apparel, ranging from lab coats to Nehru jackets. Community theaters rely on her expertise to provide outfits, and one of her hippo costumes was featured on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”
It’s no surprise that this time of year is the store’s busiest. And despite having access to whichever over-the-top costume she chooses, Meredith opts not to dress up for Halloween.
“I don’t need to be the star of the show,” she says. “I just want to be the creator.”Visit akrondesign.com for more information.