Q&A with Victor Cao, owner & buyer.
Number of stores: 1, plus 2
Square footage: 54,000
Year opened: 1989
A.T.P., BODY: Describe your business.
V.C.: Fun F/X started very modestly as a home-based business, selling magic tricks and jokes at fairs and flea markets. Within two years the first retail store was opened in Berrien Springs, Mich. [at 1,000-square-feet]. Two years after that we decided to move to Mishawaka, Ind. [because] our bigger market required a bigger store. Rental costumes were added and existing departments were expanded. [Now we have] costumes; accessories; make-up; wigs; a wing room, sexy styles; props; jokes; magic; decor, and more for adults and children.
A.T.P.: What makes your store special?
V.C..: With each department the size of a typical store, customers have an extensive selection in any category. We are located in a high-traffic shopping district, [making us] convenient, and yet, as an independent business, we offer independent customer service; we don’t just sell a wig, we show them how to put it on. We have a sexy department [that is] 3,000-square-feet. Even though this category only makes up about 20 percent of our inventory, it makes up a huge percentage of sales, especially since we are a college town. We also put almost all of our merchandise on hangers so that people can actually see and feel the costumes. We sell a lot of smaller sizes, but there are also plenty of voluptuous people who shop in our store; plus sizes sell very well at Fun F/X.
A.T.P.: What sexy brands are important?
V.C.: Rubie’s for their licensing and selection; Dreamgirl for their originality and fit; Forum Novelties for their uniqueness and comedy; and Leg Avenue for their brand-name recognition. Leg Avenue is huge: they have a brand-name recognition that a lot of costume brands have not developed.
A.T.P.: What price range do you carry?
V.C.: It is often said that “you can’t be everything to everyone,” but I say “I can try.” So I carry some very low-priced costumes for the budget-minded and high-end styles for the quality seekers. With the large space that I have, Fun F/X is really a one-stop shop for the whole family. Costumes run from about $20 to $150.
A.T.P.: What is your typical or average customer size?
V.C.: We really don’t seem to have a ‘typically size.’ In the past, when I ordered according to what I thought was our ‘typical size,’ I would run out of sizes that certain people needed. Our customers range from petite to full-sized.
A.T.P.: Describe your customer base.
V.C.: We cater to the full range of customers keeping in mind that each group has different needs. Children’s items are in the front of the store, scary is in the back so the little kids won’t come in and start screaming. The sexy department is tastefully decorated with a nightclub feel and four dressing rooms.