When Kate Iremonger walked through the doors of Costume Cave for a work trial, she knew she had gone to the right place.
"It was exactly what I wanted to do," she says.
Working there became a calling, and 13 years on, she now owns the business.
"It's an energising place," she says, "It's all about being excited about the little things that make you happy."
The Wakefield St shop has become a local institution in its 20 years of operation.
"We're like Wellington's kooky aunt that you can't get rid of."
Many of the shop's costumes are part of a revolving door of Wellington cultural history.
Over the years, ballet and theatre companies have donated parts of their wardrobe at the end of a season run.
When the shop's racks start to overfill, costumes are passed on to be used at Capital E children's theatre and school drama departments around the city.
Older outfits are culled to make way for the spoils of her scouting missions around New Zealand and Australia.
On Saturday, Ms Iremonger is opening the costume surplus to the public at the shop's annual giant garage sale.
Quirky items, such as alien costumes, kimonos and lots of wearable vintage pieces, have been culled from the collection. Many are suitable for children's dress-up boxes or repurposing, she says. Costume Cave costumes are adapted in-house, and the bulk of them are made by the staff.
Ten per cent of the sale proceeds will go to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, which was recently vandalised, resulting in the loss of half its marine life.
Ms Iremonger says she was devastated when she heard about the attack, in December.
"I live in Island Bay, so I feel a real tie with the community there. It's just awful. Who would do that?"
The Costume Cave giant garage sale takes place on Saturday, February 23, at Newtown Hall, Corner of Daniell and Constable streets, Newtown, from 9.30am till 3.30pm.
- The Dominion Post
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