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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Old Gold dresses many in Vermont

As the festive glow of Halloween fades, one costume shop in Burlington, Vt. still relishes the success of its bustling fall season and prepares for the coming winter months. Old Gold, beloved by many loyal customers since it opened in 1973, is well known because it offers a vast variety of high-quality, eccentric costumes. The “oldest retail clothing [store] in Burlington,” according to its owner, who wished to remain anonymous, enjoyed yet another busy Halloween season.

“We couldn’t be luckier,” the owner said.

Old Gold, which receives postcards and pictures from happy customers after Halloween, can satisfy anyone’s costume craving. The store’s array of outfits ranges from fighter pilot suits to pirate attire.

“It’s a place where you can go and find anything,” said Nora Daly ’13, who shopped at Old Gold this Halloween season. “If you’re thinking, ‘Where in Vermont am I going to find this?’ go to Old Gold and they will have it.”

The owner did notice some specific trends this year, however, noting that pop culture references, such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, were particularly strong. Other popular choices were Native American costumes and food-related suits, like the taco, different vegetables, hot dogs and pizza. The owner also was pleased that many college-aged girls opted for more playful, fun costumes instead of wearing something short and seductive.

While the store benefits from its prime location near schools such as the University of Vermont (UVM), Champlain College (both of which are located in Burlington) and Middlebury, not all of Old Gold’s customers are college-aged. The store has a broad range of clientele, and maintains a steady base of older customers, too.

“It’s not unusual for us to help a 75- or 80-year old and then turn around and help a teenager,” said the owner.

To please its large variety of shoppers, the owner and other employees travel to trade shows throughout the year to buy the different outfits. The owner also employs a seamstress who makes specific costumes if needed.

“I generally buy on gut instinct more than anything else,” said the owner, though she acknowledged that she did try to keep up with current music and movies to please customers for this Halloween.

Part of what makes the store so successful is the tight-knit nature of the staff, most of whom are slightly older than college-aged. According to the owner, nearly all employees stay for more than a year, and one has been working there for 12. Some have stayed for a year, taken time off and then decided to return. They find a spot waiting for them at Old Gold, as the owner tries “to give them a little home.” Throughout the year, the store has five employees, but it triples the size of its staff in September and October to keep up with the quick pace of the fall season.


After Halloween, however, Old Gold changes its selections and offers attire for winter formals and high school dances. In the spring, the store revamps again, filling its space with Mardi-Gras costumes.

“[We] try to carve out these seasons for ourselves to keep business productive,” said the owner, who hopes to use the internet more effectively as a marketing tool for Old Gold in the future. Currently, the store’s website,, does not sell merchandise.

The success Old Gold has had is also due to its high standards, which promise to help customers find what they want and enjoy their experience at the store.

“It can be just as fun to come and get your costume as it is to go out,” said the owner.

While Old Gold does not have plans to expand, the store remains committed to a simple goal - it wants to help people find something they will feel great wearing.

“Someone once told me to do one thing and do it better than anyone else,” said the owner.