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I last checked in with John at Showcase, Montpellier, in January this year in the midst of the heavy snow and New Year buzz. Since then, over a mere seven months, the shop has bought in several new product ranges, dramatically increased their famous fancy dress range, launched a new website – oh, and did I mention the owners have also somehow found time to choreograph and direct a hit musical at the Bacon Theatre!

John tells me, “Spring has actually been fairly quiet in the aftermath of the recession; I’ve definitely seen a reduction in customer flow compared to last year. However, we’ve had a lot more customers looking for specialist items; our card range for example is becoming really popular” Showcase’s card range is different to anything you’ve ever seen, with pop-up and stand-out cards which can double up as little mantelpiece features.

“The Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice shows have had a big impact on our dancewear and fancy dress requests – many people are now taking up salsa or ceroc dance lessons, and others ask for glitzy ballroom dresses to wear to parties. It’s all sequins and glitter around here nowadays!”

Busy John and his wife Heather are members of Promenade Productions, which produces two musicals a year. When I spoke with John, he had just finished with Oliver; he directed and Heather choreographed.

“Showcase supplied some of the costumes for Oliver as we had a lot of costumes that fitted with the theme. We do tend to help out with costumes although it depends on the production”

“I’m always proud of the shows we put on, but this year was simply outstanding. Everything went perfectly, which rarely happens in the theatre world! I tend to pick out flaws in things such as the sound or lighting but I couldn’t fault with anything this year” As well as this, the cast had a special visit from the original Oliver, Mark Lester, who gave them advice and even came to watch the show.

“We’ve always got more fancy dress costumes coming in – we’re getting a bit pushed for space so we’re trying to sell a few, though it’s difficult to choose which ones to get rid of as they’re all
fantastic. We’ve got to keep the popular costumes but, at the same time, a lot of our regular customers come in saying they want something different. Moulin Rouge is probably still the most popular costume range, as is the 1920s – it seems men still love to dress up as gangsters!

“We make sure all the costumes we buy in are washable as we wash all the used costumes every Monday. Having performed in some shows wearing costumes which were frankly over-worn and unclean has made me aware of how important this is! It’s hard work but it’s worth it as it maintains the quality of the costume material for longer. We have about 6 costumes downstairs made 18 years ago which are still in pristine condition.

Showcase is currently holding a summer sale to make room for new stock, so make sure you make the most of the 50% reductions! They have also introduced a new customer loyalty scheme and an ‘early bird’
offer with free gift for dancewear shoppers in August.

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