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Ben McCanna

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Katie’s Kostumes in Craig caters to last-minute shoppers

Katie Johnson has an unconventional take on Halloween.

"I just think Halloween should be fun," Johnson said. "It should never have become a gory icky."

Johnson is the owner of Katie's Kostumes, a costume rental shop at 1172 Washington St. Today and Friday will be the biggest business days of the year for Johnson, as people make last-minute decisions on what to wear to a slew of Halloween events in Craig this weekend.

But, be advised The majority of Johnson's costumes tend to steer clear of the macabre.

"You'll notice that most of my costumes are nice costumes," she said. "I don't go for the gory stuff at all. In fact, I don't have masks, except for the gorilla costumes that have to have masks.

"I would rather dress people up for fun in character-type stuff."

Johnson moved to Craig from Cedaredge in 2000 and opened the costume shop soon after.

She said she's always liked dressing up and making people laugh, so the business venture made sense for her.

"Letting people be something that they wouldn't normally be and making people laugh makes me feel good," Johnson said.

Johnson estimates she has 3,500 costumes in her shop.

Racks upon racks of costumes span the walls from floor to ceiling in all direction. Costumes are piled so high within the shop, the business owner uses a wheeled ladder to reach everything.

"I have them all categorized," Johnson said of the various costume racks. "I have Victorians, saloon girls, cowboys, pirates, gypsies, mermaids, doctors, clowns, hippies, bikers, Colonials, jailbirds, animals, newspaper guys, nuns, Egyptians, witches and devils."

Johnson said the costumes have come from different sources.

"I sew, collect, go to yard sales," she said. "I have always sewed."

Perhaps surprisingly, Johnson said most of her Halloween customers are adults.

"I see more adults than I do kids," she said. "I think a lot of the parents just go to Kmart and Walmart and get the cheapies."

Johnson said the most popular costumes among adults this year are gangsters and flappers.

"I have no idea why," Johnson said.

But, Johnson said many people come to her store not knowing what they want to be for Halloween. She has books of ideas for customers who are uncertain.

"I have a knack for putting people together with costumes," Johnson said. "I don't know why, I'm not bragging on myself, I just do.

"I've had a couple that's been coming in here for five years. And they pretty much come in and say, 'OK, what are we going to be this year?' And that's fun."

Craig residents Tony and Shamra Grajeda are that couple. This year, under the direction of Johnson, the Grajedas are going as a rooster and a chicken.

"We had an open mind and we went over, talked to Katie and made a few suggestions," Tony said. "And, she pulled out the rooster and chicken costumes. And we said, 'That'll work.'

"She gets into it pretty good."

This year, Johnson said she plans to dress up as a beer garden girl. In years past, she has been a bar fly and a saloon girl.

Johnson has good reason for her choices.

"Where do you go when you're out Halloweening? You go out to the bar," she said.