You would think that someone who owns and runs a costume shop would love nothing more than dressing up.
But for Alice’s Wonderland owner Ros Wooding, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Wooding says she first started working for the Adamstown store 11 years ago, not because she loves wearing costumes but because she enjoyed how much fun other people had when they tried them on.
Wooding and co-owner Wendy Dare have been running the business together for nine years, so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about the costume business.
On entering the Park Avenue shop, one thing is immediately clear – there are thousands of costumes to choose from, ranging from Batman to Bo Peep and even B1 from Bananas in Pyjamas.
The shop is split into several rooms.
The front one is known as the era room, which contains costumes from the 1950s through to the 1980s.
Moving further back into the store is the horror room and the character room.
‘‘Then we’ve got uniforms down one side, nationalities down the other side, which merges into pirates,’’ Dare says.
There are also separate sections for costumes that fall under the Arabian, medieval, clown, diva and rockstar categories.
Despite the sheer number of outfits, Dare says their collection isn’t even close to complete, and she isn’t kidding.
At the counter is one of the team’s two dressmakers, Susan.
She is working on a few retro hippie ensembles to add to the team’s collection.
Dare was presented with the opportunity to take over the business, and the costumes in it, from her friends in 2003.
She then turned to Wooding, an employee of the store at the time, to ask if she’d like to be a co-owner.
They haven’t looked back since.
‘‘We went in understanding that we’d never become millionaires, but we knew that we would come into work every single day and have a laugh,’’ Dare says.
For Wooding and Dare, running Alice’s Wonderland is a genuine passion. The pair are two self-confessed ‘‘big kids who have never grown up’’.
Their eyes light up as they show me the intricate glitter detail on their new collection of feather masks; they enthusiastically describe the gory accessories that were popular during the Halloween season; and they quickly point out their favourite costumes – for Dare it’s old-school Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and for Wooding it’s the medieval dresses.
‘‘I think I might have actually been born in that time period,’’ Wooding jokes.
Purchasing new costumes for the store isn’t all fun and games – it can be a big gamble.‘‘We very rarely step outside of the classics when we’re buying new outfits, because you can never be too sure if they’ll be a hit,’’ Dare says.
‘‘But we absolutely fell in love with the hotdog costume.’’
The pair thought about whether to purchase it for a long time.
‘‘We looked at it for ages and said ‘No it wouldn’t work’ but we got it anyway and it has been such a success.’’
Another successful costume involves a pair of everyday footy shorts.
‘‘There was a guy who hired a Newcastle Knights outfit to propose to his girlfriend,’’ Dare says.
‘‘He wanted to be a knight in shining armour.’’
She also tells of a couple who decided to renew their vows in costumes.
‘‘They were married in the ’60s and decided to recreate their wedding day, so all of the guests dressed up in costumes from that era.’’
Dare and Wooding say stories like that are the best part of their job – they love not knowing what characters are going to walk through the door next.