Halloween-y and cosplay ensembles at Goodwill’s recent costume celebration. Photo by Samantha Ortiz/Goodwill

Halloween is the third most celebrated party day of the year in the U.S. riding on the heels of Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve. It could be our love affair for all things pumpkin spice, or perhaps it’s our instinctual desire to experience the thrills and frights that Halloween delivers. Most likely though, it’s all about the costumes. Think about it: Halloween is a good excuse to play pretend and pay homage to our favorite pop culture icons. Some people love playing dress-up so much they have immersed themselves into the cosplay culture, creating opportunities to craft new identities through make-up and costuming all year long, with a focus on anime, comic book and video game personalities.

Though the term “cosplay” is thought to have be coined in 1984 when Nobuyuki Takahashi of Studio Hard was attending the World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, people have been practicing the hobby since the days of yore in the form of masquerade balls and festivities like it. Some of the earliest examples of cosplay recorded in contemporary history though, happened right here in Tacoma when in 1910 a Tacoman portrayed the popular comic strip character Mr. Skygack from Mars at a convention. George White, head of public relations and communications of Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier region, brought this fun fact to the attention of the Tacoma Weekly staff. And really, it’s no wonder.

The increased popularity of both Halloween and cosplay equate to many developing a close relationship with Goodwill and other thrift stores like it, since they’re a treasure trove for reasonably priced clothing and accessories that can easily be crafted into new pieces.,

“As cosplay becomes more popular, a lot of stores become more expensive for less quality, so people get into DIY and get really innovative,” said Andrea Davidson, both a cosplay lover and fashion merchandiser at the South Hill Goodwill. Davidson and co-worker Whitney Adams both strive to apply their cosplay experience and love of fashion to aid others in their quest for the perfect costume by providing a different perspective and unique approaches to crafting a look that is special to each consumer. Davidson goes on to say, “It’s a really great outlet for anyone to express their own style and creativity, everyday.”

Furthermore, aside from getting fabulous deals on pieces that add your own personal flair to your look, supporting an organization like Goodwill helps advocate for folks in need in job training and supports employment for those with disabilities or special needs. Senior Vice President, Retail and Business Operations of Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region Mike Thomas adds, “We stand to see a broader range and greater number of customers in our store if cosplay takes off in the entertainment and vacation industry. If cosplay creates yet another reason for people to visit our stores and make purchases – that will translate into more help for the unemployed as our stores fund free career training and job placement for those with barriers to employment.”

So, your new obsession for crafting your own ensemble not only contributes to the community culture of the cosplay world but also to your neighbors that Goodwill provides services for.

It’s a win/win.

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