Dooley’s closes after 45 years of business in Alaska
After 45 years of business in Alaska, Dooley’s Tuxedos and Costumes is closing its doors.
As she prepares to sell her company, owner Starla Heim picks through the costumes and prices them out. Each rack not only holds decades of costumes but also lifetime of memories.
“This is my junior prom dress that we rent as a seniorita dress,” she said as she held up a purple sequined, black, ruffle dress.
Heim grew up in a world of make-believe and fantasy, surrounded by characters throughout time.
“These older style wagon train dresses remind me of Little House on the Prairie,” she said.
It was all just part of the family business. Heim said it was her brother—a magician—who learned the original owner, Doris Dooley, was looking to sell her costume shop she started in Fairbanks in the early 1970s.
“He went home and talked to his mom, my mother, housewife of 30 years, into buying a costume shop and she did. That’s the story. Started with a little bit of magic,” Heim smiled.
Heim started on the payroll as soon as she was old enough work; she became her mother Rose’s business partner at 18. The pair made Dooley’s a destination for dress up until Rose’s death in 2012.
“It isn’t quite the same without her. We thought we could continue on with her legacy and we’ve been doing it very well but the passion and spirit just isn’t here without her,” Heim said.
That’s one of the reasons she and the family made the decision to close the store. All of the 10,000-plus costumes and tuxedos are up for sale, with the exception of just a few.
“This is the rabbit fur coat my mother owned in the 1970s,” she said as she held up a multicolored, patchwork jacket. “We’ve rented that for pimps quite a bit. This one will stick with me. It’s a sentimental piece.”
The store’s last day is—appropriately—Nov. 1, the day after Halloween.
Heim said she’s not sure what she’ll do after she leaves the crazy costumes behind, but she’s excited about a wonderful world of new possibilities—and the chance to finally be home on Halloween to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
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