With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the busiest time of year for a massive costume retailer located in North Mankato.
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — For a massive costume retailer, this is the time of year when a month’s worth of work happens in a day.
In North Mankato, employees at FUN.com and its sister site HalloweenCostumes.com are in the middle of the Halloween rush.
Just on Monday, the company said it hit 100,000 orders in one day.
While the business claims it’s now the world’s largest online-only costume retailer, operations started in a small garage.
What’s made the company so successful?
“I think it’s inspiration from my mom who was a seamstress growing up and we always had the best costumes as kids, and the best quality, and the most unique. So we want to provide that to everybody else in the world,” said Julie Fallenstein, executive vice president of FUN.com.
Julie and her three sibling grew up with parents who loved celebrating Halloween. Their mom, Jenice, would also make their costumes for school plays and other events.
“When my mom and dad decided to move from the country into town, she asked, ‘Does anyone want all these costumes?’ And my sister and I who were in college were like, ‘We’ll take them. We’ll try to rent them,'” Julie recalled.
Julie and her sister, Lisa, started renting them out of their garage in 1992. They sold out in two days.
It eventually grew into a family business called Costumes Galore.
Years later, their brother, Tom, was studying web design and for one of his classes he had to build a website. In 2001, Tom took the shop online.
“They were so busy that there wasn’t a break in the ring. So it would just continually ring and never stopped,” Julie recalled. “We had to unplug the phones because we no longer could help anyone and there was just nothing we could do to keep up with all the demand.”
It eventually led to FUN.com and HalloweenCostumes.com — headquartered in North Mankato.
Julie said they do about 90% of their business for the year in October alone. The company has about 300 full-time employees and 2,000-3,000 seasonal employees during this time of year.
Dianna Lyngholm, director of creative services, said they offer more than 15,000 costumes and about 5,000 of them are exclusive to their shop. About half of the costumes are their own designs. They sell about six million costumes each year.
Lyngholm said when she tells people where she works, “I think it’s kind of hard for them to imagine, especially that it’s in Mankato, Minnesota…. ‘Oh okay, you sell costumes.’ It’s like, no. We sell basically all the costumes.”
Operations recently expanded to a new 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Kentucky which is approximately 100,000 square feet larger than their North Mankato location.
They ship to about 90 different countries.
Julie said, “It’s still small town Minnesota but taking care of the whole world from here.”
Those interested in getting a costume in time for Halloween have until Friday night to order.
Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at [email protected].
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