Holiday house handcrafts costumes

Sitting across from a cornfield along Route 6, the house seems unsuspecting, but inside it is home to some of your worst nightmares.

A terrifying world where mummies, werewolves, vampires and other movie monsters sit side by side exists within the walls. The store is a fantasy world where nurses, pirates, kings and grizzly bears share an aisle.

For Gregg Kerns this world is not a nightmare or a fantasy, it’s everyday life. Kerns along with his brother, Doug, own and manage the Costume Holiday House.

The store specializes in handcrafted costumes for Halloween, theater productions and promotions. The business consists of three stores located in Toledo, Columbus and Fremont.

The family-run business has been in operation for over 40 years. Dorothy Kerns began the costume business in 1959 after designing well recieved mice costumes for a Mardi Gras party. An interest in her costume design skills quickly grew. Soon she was overwhelmed by costume requests. Kerns said his mother never said no to a costume request.

What started as a hobby became a full fledged business for the family in 1969. That year the Fremont Costume Holiday House was built next to the Kerns’ family home.

Kerns spent his entire youth growing up around costumes. In grade school, Kerns was embarrassed by his mom’s profession. Kerns said he used to tell classmates that his mom was a homemaker.

But as he grows older, Kerns began to embrace the family business. As a teenager he worked in the store’s mask department.

“It was kind of cool growing up,” Kerns said. “I always knew I would have the best costume for Halloween.”

In 1985 Kerns graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in marketing. Kerns planned to spend a year helping his parents with the business following graduation.

But eighteen years later still works to improve the Costume Holiday House.

“It’s still challenging, that’s why I am still here right now,” Kerns said. “There are still a lot of things I want to do yet.”

Kerns’ business plans have been working.

The costume shop has since expanded to stores in Toledo and Columbus. The Costume Holiday House has also had some high profile companies as customers. The shop has made costumes for Marshall Field’s, American Red Cross, Six Flags, the Toledo Zoo and Walt Disney World.

Unlike his childhood years, Kerns is not embarrassed about what he does for a living, even if it is hard to explain.

“Usually I am pretty proud of what I do, but it’s never a two-second conversation,” Kerns said.

Kerns’ strong sense of pride and work ethic are appreciated by his employees, some of whom have worked for the company for over 10 years.

“He’s a good person to work for,” said Ina Blazer, manager of the Toledo Costume Holiday House. “I feel like he is also a good friend.”

Kerns’ parents and brother still live next door to the Fremont store. The entire family is still active in business. The Kerns have been able to survive working with each other.

“There’s been ups and downs,” Kerns said. “Being in a family business, you’re bound to have arguments.”

Surrounded by so many costumes everyday used to bother Kerns, but it no longer does.

“There was awhile where I didn’t even get dressed up for Halloween anymore,” Kerns said.

Costume Holiday House features 50,000 costumes, with 95 percent of them made on site.

“There was awhile where I didn’t even get dressed up for Halloween anymore,” Kerns said.