LISBON FALLS — Nobody can say for sure how many people have suited up over the years with outfits from Drapeau’s Costumes.

The Halloween season alone would see hundreds of rented costumes go out the door: Pirates. Ballerinas. Chewbacas, samurai warriors, Mutant Ninja Turtles and various incarnations of Elvis Presley, to name only a few.

Now Drapeau’s, getting locals into character for 62 years, is closing up shop. The building has been sold and owner Kristine Scribner Cornish is trying to figure out what to do with the 4,000-plus costumes that still hang from her racks.

It’s not a move about which she is entirely happy.

“I had the best job in the world,” said Cornish, who bought the business in 2011. “I got to help people to have more fun. That’s been the best part of the job.”

Cornish recalls people coming in because they wanted to dress as a black bear to startle someone getting off a plane. Then there was the woman who rented a Yeti outfit so that she could dance around in front of her husband’s wildlife character.

Around Halloween, Cornish would see a little bit of everything, from the traditional to the outlandish.

“I could write a book,” she said Thursday.

Unfortunately, Halloween comes but once a year. The economy, the ease of online shopping and a touchy political climate have joined forces to pummel the costume business, Cornish said. Not just here but all over the country, where similar closings are reported on a near-daily basis.

On Tuesday, Cornish made her unhappy news public.

“With a heavy but hopeful heart, I will be closing the costume shop by the new year,” she wrote in a Facebook posting. “I am not yet sure how I will dispose of the 4000 plus costumes but am in hopes that someone will step up to purchase the collection. Selling price would be very reasonable as I really wish to keep the collection going as a resource for the public and theater groups as well.”

Expressions of regret began coming in almost immediately.

“Happy for you,” wrote Denise F Moore-Reynolds. “Sad for us!”

A few longtime Drapeau’s customers went straight to the store to express their sadness — and to pick up costumes they’d been renting for years.

“This place is a little hidden treasure,” said John Pertel, who went in Thursday to pick up a ’70s-era leisure suit he was fond of.

“They’ve been giving me the ability to have these disco parties,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun with it. A lot of people have had a lot of fun. With all that’s going on in the world right now, this kind of thing gives people some levity.”

Cornish didn’t get into the costume business because she expected it to be a cash cow, she said. In fact, she left a well-paying corporate job to buy the shop.

“I had a really good job down in Portland,” she said. “But I would have been gone every day from 6:30 in the morning until 7 at night. Instead, by being here, I was able to get up, have breakfast with my child, put her on the bus, go to all of her things. It really served a wonderful purpose for my family.”

Which doesn’t entirely take the sting out of selling the business. While talking about her years among the racks at Drapeau’s, Cornish a couple times had to cough away tears.

“It’s painful to me,” she said. “It really is. There is so much of my heart and soul in all this. All the sewing we’ve done, all the wonderful people we’ve worked with. I’ve had so many people who have said, ‘Oh, now. What am I going to do now?’ It’s like: I don’t know. I don’t know what they will do. There just hasn’t been enough to keep this going in the present state that it’s in. It’s sad.”

Before selling the building, she thought about moving it closer to Freeport where she might attract customers out of Portland. She thought of trying to run the business out of her home, which would have meant making room for all those vintage gowns, superhero outfits, a few hundred wigs and various monster heads. The whole business would have to be rebooted.

“I just don’t have the energy at 57,” Cornish said. “I can’t juggle this for another five to 10 years.”

The costumes will be on the market for a few weeks as a collection. What remains to be seen is whether a buyer will come forward who wants to buy all of that along with the Drapeau’s name. Or maybe she’ll end up selling it off in lots that are applicable to theater groups.

“We’ll see,” Cornish said. “It’s really the biggest collection, available to the general public, in the state. That’s the saddest part.”

Drapeau’s opened in 1956 on Main Street in Lewiston. It later moved to Maple Street, then Lisbon Street and finally to Lisbon Falls where Cornish took over.

Whether the Drapeau’s name will remain depends on potential buyers. No matter how it goes, Cornish said, she’ll miss the business and the people, with their various party, holiday and practical joke needs.

“I know over the next few weeks and months,” she said, “there’s going to be a lot of tears.”

Kristine Scribner Cornish has put Drapeau’s Costumes of Maine in Lisbon Falls up for sale. 

Kristine Scribner Cornish has thousands of costumes for rent and for sale at Drapeau’s Costumes of Maine in Lisbon Falls. 

Elvis is in the building at Drapeau’s Costumes of Maine in Lisbon Falls. 

Kristine Scribner Cornish has over 4,000 costumes at Drapeau’s Costumes of Maine in Lisbon Falls. 

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