LANCASTER — After nearly four decades of princesses, pirates, superheroes, cowboys or any number of magical creatures, or historical figures, Daisy’s Costumes will close up shop at the end of next month.
“People don’t come round like they used to; they go online to buy their stuff,” shop owner April Ray said as she sat behind the counter Monday morning.
If Ray did not have the costume, she made it for you.
“People don’t have the time, and a lot of people can’t appreciate good costumes,” Ray said. “Even my family shops online for everything. They buy groceries and have them delivered.”
Ray expects to close the shop by the end of June. She will move her costume rentals online.
“I’m going to save 200 of my favorite things,” Ray said.
Ray will rent storage units for her other costumes.
“If somebody does get in touch with me online I can find it, or I haven’t got it. I won’t sit and sew it anymore,” Ray said.
As Ray spoke, customer Chaun McDonald of Rosamond returned a Duchess of Lancaster costume she rented last week to wear at The Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
“It was so fun,” McDonald said.
McDonald started coming to Daisy’s Costumes about 21 years ago.
“My daughter was Annie Oakley. There was something that we were missing and mom said, ‘You know, I bet Daisy has it,’ ” McDonald said.
McDonald added if anybody needed anything, she sent them to Daisy’s Costumes.
April and her husband George, who also works at the shop, married in 1972. They have five children, seven grandchildren, and four-and-a-half great-grandchildren.
“This is one of the things that we’re going to do because we have a new great-grandson coming in December,” April said.
The couple first opened Daisy’s Costumes in 1982 on Avenue I. The shop relocated to Lancaster Boulevard, where it remained for 31 years, until a fire in April 2014 destroyed costumes.
“The fire is odd,” April said. “It destroyed 10 pioneers, left two, and destroyed another 10. Why it jumped I don’t know. Didn’t burn a single feather boa in the cardboard boxes.”
April thought that was it. But the community showed up. Volunteers sifted through costumes and saved what costumes could be saved. Daisy’s Costumes reopened in a different storefront on Lancaster Boulevard, then moved to its current location at 45074 10th St West, Suite 109, about three years ago.
“He’s taken such good care of us, but it’s not enough,” April said of developer Scott Ehrlich, who owns the building.
Hanging up in the shop were Disney-themed costumes April sewed for a surprise 90th birthday for a family’s grandmother.
“Grandma thinks she’s going to somebody’s house to pick up tickets to go to the movies,” April said. “When she gets there everybody’s going to be there in costume. Lovely, lovely family … And it wasn’t until we had the fire that we realized we that we went to everybody’s special days.”
Some of the oddest costume requests April ever received were fruits and vegetables.
“Tell her about your failure,” George said. “Asparagus.”
About 10 or 12 years ago a man ordered an asparagus costume. April spent weeks on it. She created a bunch of asparagus spears, but the customer wasn’t satisfied.
“After he left I thought, ‘Well, why I didn’t I make one asparagus spear instead of a bunch?’ ” April said. “It’s haunted me and to this day when I go by the asparagus in the supermarket I get upset.”
Daisy’s Costumes is also the costumer for local theater companies.
“We did 44 shows in the LPAC in 25 years,” April said of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
April recently did costumes for Cedar Street Theatre’s production of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” in April.
“39 Steps” Director David Wright started working with April when she and George first opened their shop on Avenue I next to Rick’s Pawn Shop. Wright estimated April costumed more than 30 shows for him.
“She combines an encyclopedic knowledge of costumes through the ages with clothing construction skills such as I have never seen before,” Wright wrote in an email. “Most cities our size don’t have a costume shop at all, let alone a shop that does custom work. Her motto says it all – ‘Ask — we probably can.’ And she has always kept her prices low. She works tirelessly, long into the night at deadline, and shows up with armloads of costumes, all on hangers and wrapped in plastic sleeves, each one tagged with character/actor names.”
April will provide the costumes for Cedar Street Theatre’s upcoming production of “Damn Yankees,” directed by Jill McGrady, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
“Over the last three decades, they have costumed the majority of my community theatre productions and were always ready to assist with my high school productions,” McGrady said.’
“In addition to theatrical productions for all of the theatre companies in the Antelope Valley, they have costumed our citizens for countless Halloweens, Easters, school productions, and costume parties,” McGrady said. “It is the end of an era, and they will be greatly missed by us all.”
Chris Bostwick of Palmdale Repertory Theatre started working with the Aprils in 1989, as an actor and stage manager.
“Both are such giving people!” Bostwick wrote. “I have enjoyed my association with them and I know they will be missed dearly.”
Hint to local theater groups: April said she will come out of retirement for two shows: “Man of La Mancha” or “The King and I.”