Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big Don The Costumier

two things dawned on me recently: 1. i haven't posted in a while and 2. i've never been inside big don the costumier. while the first realization i instantly wrote off as a natural result of my very important and busy life, the second was not so easy.

i resolutely put off going in for a few weeks, claiming to both my friends and enemies that "a post was in the works" or "just wait until i get that big don's post up"--fruitless attempts to delay the inevitable. the shop stared at me every time i walked by, a squat troll challenging me to step inside and into the wonders or horrors of big dons.

once inside, i realized my skittishness was both silly and with merit at the same time. the place is a treasure trove of strange masks, headdresses, and dinner gowns among many, many other things. the store is also a maze--one pile after another strewn about seemingly without discretion. some of them seem to go to the ceiling.

i believe my favorite was the mask room. though the picture below isn't great, you can see a traditional asian looking red, burly thing, a troll wearing a turban, and godzilla. its like going to the toy store!

below is the other side of the mask room. see what i mean about the piles? they just don't stop. while i was there i woman was trying on outfits. she disappeared behind what looked like an endless rack of clothes. after a few seconds, i heard a door open and close. apparenlty there is a dressing room somewhere in big don's as well but i couldn't find it.

notice the suit of armor in the back right. he sometimes makes an appearance on the street. but only on particularly nice days, or when there is an impending dragon.

and of course one can't help but wonder about the charlie chaplan figure below. i suppose if i had a balloon shaped like a frog (or monkey?) head i would tie it my cane as well, but do you lose both the can and the balloon if you let go? these are real questions.

the truly amazing part about big don's (endless costumes aside) is that its been around and in the same location for 31 years. seriously. so sometime in the year 1977 (coincidentally, the year star wars was released--probably increasing big d's costume and customer supply at least 25%, ballpark) big don's was open for business. my mind can't help wondering what the warehouse district looked like in the 70's--this is around the time the bijou was showing "adult art" films.

View Larger Map

the owner and her family have been a part of the area for years as well. her mother and aunt purchased property across the street in the 40's. if you go, make sure you ask her about the place.

for all its strangeness, big don's is a knoxville treasure and a great place to get some good costumes. so next halloween, birthday party, or 'casual day' at work go by and pick up something nice.


Mickey said...

I could have really used this place the last couple of halloweens.

Bay in TN said...

Hmmm. Something happened to my last attempt to post.

Anyhoo, Big Don's rocks! It smells just like the costume closet at my old high school, only bigger.

Is Big Don's Junk shop still across the street? That was a much bigger mess, if I remember correctly.

ck said...

big don's "elegant junk" is still there, but i haven't seen it open in the last few years. i got a sweet 70s leather jacket there back in college.

i stroll by the costumier all the time and have never gone in there. now i can vicariously experience it through stan's eyes without actually doing anything. 'cause that's what blogging is all about for me: experiencing other peoples' lives to fill the empty void of my own!

Anonymous said...

you guys need to update this more often...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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Unknown said...

Is this place still open?