Thorpe St Andrew

Everyone’s a winner with Fancy Dress Box

Just Regional
Jul 8, 2024 4 mins read

Tracey Cooper has made life easier for parents providing children’s outfits for themed days by setting up a not-for-profit community service which has had a boom year.

VISION: Dussindale Children’s Fancy Box founder and organiser Tracey Cooper has been amazed by the community response to her idea.

The idea for Dussindale Children’s Fancy Dress Box came to Tracey on World Book Day in March 2023.

“I felt sorry for parents who were continually having to provide costumes throughout the year. As well as World Book Day, there was Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Halloween, historical days at school such as the Victorians’ day and so on.

“The cost of new outfits is around £15 to £20, with many having more than one child to buy for. For some, creating outfits from scratch is easy and the time can be found to do so, for others, time constraints or simply a lack of imagination and skills make this option impossible. So I decided to set up a ‘lending library’ of costumes, where people could simply borrow an outfit, wear it, wash it (where necessary) and then return it.”

After putting a shout-out on a couple of local community pages asking for donations of outfits that were sitting long since forgotten/grown out of in wardrobes and toy boxes, she was amazed at the response.

As well as outfits, coat-hangers, storage boxes and bags to cover the outfits to keep them clean were provided by the community.

“We had a sort-out and declutter in our garage and my husband created a hanging rail which spans the back wall. I approached a local seamstress who had been recommended to me and explained the set-up. Claire Jones AKA Darning Queen, (who lives on Harvey Lane) happily came on board to provide repairs and restoration of outfits free of charge, helping to lengthen the life of some of the items and of course prevent them ending up in landfill.

“To date, Claire has worked her magic on approximately 25 outfits, all completely free of charge, in exchange for a shout- out for her services!”

Excluding Halloween costumes, which have yet to be fully sorted and photographed, the current range stands at 251 costumes together with a sizeable collection of assorted accessories.

Tracey is happy to accept further donations although she has had to put a stop on items from Disney animated movie Frozen as the current tally is 39 assorted dresses!

“Occasionally, I have received donations which have been unsuitable for various reasons, but I will always endeavour to pass them on to other groups or charity shops and very rarely is anything disposed of,” she said.

Donations have come from various places, including a local charity shop, Dawn’s New Horizon in Sprowston and a woman in Barry in South Wales, who heard about the service via a local TV station.

“It’s just me running it and for the most part, it runs like clockwork now that I have a good system in place! It ticks over nicely, although of course I do have flurries every now and again!,” said Tracey.

 

 

 

 

HOW FANCY DRESS BOX WORKS

 

I take a photograph of every costume, with a large sticker on it which gives all the relevant information, (character/age/accessories) I then bag the costume and add to the collection.

Each photo is added to the Fancy Dress Box Facebook page in the genre appropriate album. This means that you can easily search according to costume required and everything is labelled accordingly!

Once the outfit is chosen, the parent/guardian contacts me via Messenger to arrange collection.

Upon collection, the person will sign a contract, which states that they understand the costume is being lent not given, that the costume will be returned in a clean and undamaged condition and also agree a date by which the costume must be returned.

Contact details are also taken. Each outfit then requires the payment of a £5 refundable deposit. Providing the criteria is met, upon returning the costume, the deposit is returned! Simple.

To date, no one has not returned the costume, or returned one damaged, but the contract states that the deposit will be kept if necessary and then used for the purchase of another costume.

No one makes any money whatsoever, and in theory, no one spends any either!

 

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