True Halloween diehards know that a wicked costume does not come prepackaged. Half of the fun of this time of season is not in the trick-or-treating or bobbing for apples, but in the hunt for the perfect outfit and scary decorations. After all, Halloween is the one time of year when everyone has the right – nay, the obligation – to let their freak flag fly. Our inner gods and goddesses, devils, comic book heroes, star athletes, royalty, monsters and zombies are given free rein to terrorize the town... and ask strangers for candy!

    Sure, you could go to a party store or order your costume online, but where’s the fun in that? Hot trends this year are zombies, goths and vampires, as well as any character from the recently concluded TV show Breaking Bad. Shoppers can find all the works for these costumes and more at Forest City Surplus. The mega-store, located at 1712 Dundas Street (near Third), is crammed with gear and priced quite reasonably. Don’t be afraid of the cackling hag that greets you with her cauldron when you enter. If you dare to pass her, bins of accessories beg you to personalize just about anything you want to become for a night.

    For those who aren’t sure what they want to dress up as this year, a huge assortment of wigs, make-up kits, camouflage webbing, lights, gloves, hats, glasses, and more is sure to get the creative juices flowing.

    Forest City Surplus has long been known as the place to go for army supplies.
    So if it’s a soldier, general, or paratrooper that catches your attention this year, look no further.
    Characters from Breaking Bad and other hit TV shows may even outshine superheroes as the ‘in’ look for 2013. Gas masks, army-issued coveralls, chemical suits and galoshes, and a variety of hunting paraphernalia will make for the perfect Walter or Jesse costume. And yes, they have jars, beakers and other unique glass containers here as well for as low as $1 apiece.

    What makes this store truly unique, however, is the vast array of merchandise that you simply will not find at a traditional retail outlet.

    For those with cash to spend, there are gladiator helmets, decorative shields, swords, pirate pistols, and body armour to take your fantasy game to the next level.
    On first glance, the place might appear to be a man cave extraordinaire. But don’t pass it by, ladies. There’s great stuff here for you, too. Vintage army clothing, amazing wigs, funky accoutrements, gloves, sceptres, and everything you need to undeadify yourself is here.

    Goths and vampires breathe new life into feeling all gloom-and-doom. There is no end of excitement putting this look together. Start with a sultry black outfit (heavy on the fishnet) and make like you’re heading to the last party you’ll ever crash.

    Then mix it up with pale-face makeup and a few well-placed tears and temp tattoos. Nobody puts Morticia in a corner. Naturally, people don’t want to dress up as the same thing every year. This is where your trusty second-hand store comes in, as those who buy elaborate costumes tend to donate to charity when they are done with them. An array of gently-used costumes can be found at Goodwill, Salvation Army Thrift, and consignment shops.

    All the basic building blocks for Insane Cheerleader, Dead Prom King & Queen, Hippie, Mob Boss, Dirty ‘30s Gangster, and various creepy housewife dresses a la Stepford Wives can be found for cheap on these racks. To be sure, many retail outlets do offer an array of new stock for the holiday – including masks, fake weapons, costume jewelry, make-up and other do-it-yourself kids, et cetera. On a practical note, don’t forget the flashlights and/or reflectors.

    In the chaos of trick-or-treating in many neighbourhoods, it is always prudent to think like a driver. It’s hard to see little witches and vampires dressed in black when it is dark out. Reflective tape can be found at many stores and should be used liberally on the backs of kids’ costumes, shoes, and treat bags.
    Happy Halloween!

    ~ Amie Ronald-Morgan of Scene Magazine London, Ontario, Canada.
    Original article on page 23 of the October 10 to October 23, 2013 edition of Scene Magazine.