Inexpensive Costume Options at Buffalo Exchange, Wise Buys

Finding a clever Halloween costume can be a challenge, especially in a hip, creative community like Bellingham. More than just a day to indulge in your sweet tooth, Halloween has become an opportunity to show off your ingenuity. That said, it can feel like the pressure to perform is on. This year, avoid all that. Get a little thrifty instead.

Checking out a couple thrift stores, rather than buying an expensive polyester-packaged costume, allows for maximum creativity with minimum expense. (Plus, recycling and reusing fits right in with the Bellingham ethos.)

The Buffalo Exchange is a good place to start your search. The store hunts for Halloween-like pieces throughout the year, but starts to bring them to the sales floor October 1, said store manager Alexa Johnson. Eighty-five percent of the Halloween merchandise is recycled clothing, while the rest gets delivered to the store as new items. Shoppers can expect slightly lower prices for Halloween items than the rest of the clothing in the store. For example, while a 1980s prom dress may work well for a creative costume, its unique style won’t sell during the rest of the year. Mix a little creativity with a couple bucks and you have a costume right out of a John Hughes movie.

Popular items in the past few years at the Buffalo Exchange have been animal accessories like horns and ears, character clothing for the Netflix original series “Stranger Things,” “Game of Thrones”-like garb, and general popular culture, Johnson said.

“We try to cater to DIY costumes. The packaged costumes can be insensitive and expensive,” Johnson said. Johnson suggests shopping around at a few different thrift stores and being open to new ideas in order to develop the best costume.

Wise Buys Thrift Store is a good next stop on your Halloween hunt. Costume merchandise will be out by the second week of October, said store manager Nancy Long. Beyond just clothing, shoppers can find Halloween decor to give their home a spooky vibe. Long said they often get graduation gowns donated that make good starting points for a costume. Vintage jewelry, wedding dresses, and 1970s formal wear are also popular. And since the clothing is used, customers don’t have to feel guilty making their own alterations or additions to the pieces. “Your costume will be completely unique. You won’t have to worry about anyone else having it,” Long said. And, if you rather not alter pieces, thrifted costumes are easy to wear beyond the Halloween season as an addition to your everyday wardrobe.

Don’t let Halloween be too hard. It is supposed to be fun, after all. A few trips to the thrift stores and maybe a Google search or two is the best route to inspiration at the lowest price.

Buffalo Exchange
1209 N. State St., Bellingham
360.676.1375 |
Wise Buys Thrift Store
1224 N. State St., Bellingham
360.734.0202 |
"And since the clothing is used, customers don’t have to feel guilty making their own alterations or additions to the pieces."