story and photos by Robin Beaudoin
Odds are, you’ve passed by it, seen it on Florence in Overton Square while hopping into Maggie’s Pharm, Gould’s, or Memphis Pizza Café. You may have even rented a costume at Mr. Lincoln’s Costume Shoppe- I have, in 1995 for my senior prom, held on a riverboat. (My date rented a purple velvet tuxedo jacket with top hat, and it was magical.) Here’s the skinnyon the best costume shop in Memphis, and how it is serving our community’s needs.
Barry Lincoln, creator and owner of Mr. Lincoln’s costume shops, didn’t begin in the costuming business. He was employed for fifteen years by Tom’s snacks, making potato chips, living in Annesdale- Snowden historic district.Each year, a home tour was organized by the district, and the association would rent costumes for the tour guides, to keep them dressed in the period of the early twentieth-century homes.
When Tom’s downsized and mechanized, Lincoln’s position was cut. He knew the woman who owned the previous costume shop was prepared to sell and retire. After some research to ensure that there was no other costume shop of its kind in the city, Lincoln made an offer and successfully purchased what would become Mr. Lincoln’s costume shop. “After two or three years, it took off,” recalls Lincoln, whose store rents costumes, props, party supplies, and sells masks, makeup, and accessories to accompany each look.
The shop is small, but packed, and every square inch of wall lined with masks, wigs, fishnet stockings, fake facial hair, scars and theatre makeup. Racks upon racks of clothing and costumes is organized by time period or theme. Pictured, Barry Lincoln poses with a casualty of the Titanic.
“For St. Patrick’s Day, a lady came in and bought every pride flag thing I had!” remarks
Lincoln. Halloween may seem like the most obvious time to rent a costume, but Mr. Lincoln’s stays busy with theaters renting costumes for productions, birthdays, conventions, Mardi Gras parties, Memphis in May festivities, Independence Day, and Christmas (its second busiest week of the year, between church nativities, Dickens plays, and Santa and his helpers). This Halloween he doesn’t expect too many changes in trends from last year. “There weren’t any really huge movies like Black Panther this year, though I have sold some Captain Marvel and will have some of those to rent,” says Lincoln. Superhero costumes are consistently popular, as have been characters from Game of Thrones for several years.
Mr. Lincoln also notes that if your group has a big party or event coming up that may require costumes, please let him know well in advance, and he may be able to provide a discount to party goers.
Mr. Lincoln’s Costume Shoppe
29 Florence, Memphis 38104
Extended hours in the weeks prior to Halloween.