Best established store that should stay open forever
Evangeline’s Costume Mansion
Have you met Frank at Evangeline’s? He likes to dress up as a Gold Rush cowboy, but his dusty trench coat doesn’t seem to come from the costume racks.
“Frank” is one of the Old Sacramento costume shop’s ghosts. More than one longtime employee claims to have spotted the gunslinger walking through the building’s storefront and storage halls, sometimes after hours.
“I’ll be working at my desk and get the sense that someone’s watching me,” said Denise Benitez-Gonzalez, who manages the receiving department below ground. “There’s been a couple times when I’ll turn around, and I’ll get a silhouette of a tall man wearing a cowboy hat, longish hair.”
There are also ghost stories of giggling children and sweet pups turning into defensive growlers at brick walls and empty staircases. In April, the shop was featured on the Travel Channel series Ghost Bait.
The haunt seems appropriate. Evangeline’s thrives during the Halloween season, its maze-like basement inventory emptying out by Oct. 31.
The staff begin their costume search each January, since it’s difficult to predict which will be popular. Movie releases such as Wonder Woman or Maleficent, or big news stories provide some hints on what will sell, says Teri Burge, the store’s merchandise buyer.
“I’m hoping we see a lot of Area 51 sales this year,” she says.
Costumes related to Red Riding Hood is a safe bet.
“I think it’s still unusual, it’s not overdone,” said Deborah Chaussé, the store’s owner. “It’s sweet, and not necessarily all that sexy. … and it’s great for couples, too. It’s easy for a man to be a wolf or a grandma.”
In 1974, Dorothea Evangeline Chaussé opened an antique gift store by the same name and building, the Howard House on K Street. Deborah, her daughter, took the reins in 1985. In 1992, Evangeline’s expanded into the Lady Adams next door, supposedly the oldest standing building in Sacramento. The full costume mansion opened upstairs in 2000.
“It was really a gamble,” Chaussé said. “Upstairs businesses tend to be poorly visited.”
These days, the masquerade runs year-round: German-themed costumes for Oktoberfest, and multicolored wigs for ’80s parties. Recently, a group of friends purchased pirate outfits for a kayaking trip.
The vast selection of props and garments across three floors separate it from other Halloween stores. The ever-changing inventory means longtime customers are bound to stumble upon something new—even if that something is Frank.
“It’s an adventure,” Chaussé said. “People are still discovering.”