CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Famous fancy dress shop Escapade closes down after 36 years

Dress-up shop calls in administrators despite round-the-block Halloween queues

07 November, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

IT has long been the go-to place in Camden Town for werewolf masks, fake blood, stink bombs, silver wigs and fairy wings.

But Escapade, the well-known fancy dress and party accessories store, closed its doors for the final time this week.

Although there were queues around the block in the days leading up to Halloween, the shop in Chalk Farm Road has now called in administrators after struggling with the costs of running a large high street branch. Up to 24 employees have been told they face redundancy.

Escapade had started life in a unit on Camden High Street 36 years ago, and its huge success – scores of schoolchildren would queue at weekends to stock up on tricks and jokes – prompted a move to larger premises a decade ago. It was busy ahead of World Book Day and one-off hen and stag night groups would come in to get kitted out in fancy dress.

But sources say a perfect storm of poor high street trading conditions, rising rent and rates, and competition from low-cost websites who pay ­little tax in the UK, had seen a change in fortunes.

Yesterday (Wednesday), a message on its website told would-be customers that it had ceased trading

. “It is the end of an era,” said the source. “So many people have come here as young customers, and then come back again with their children. But Escapade has faced what so many other shops have to battle with – internet firms like Amazon and eBay can undercut them. They don’t have to pay VAT, and have other lower overheads. “People are shopping online and buying really cheap products from China. It makes it very hard for high street shops.”

They added: “It means no matter how successful and popular the shop, as Escapade undoubtedly has been, it’s always going to be a struggle when your competitors are just not operating on a level playing field.”

The parade in Chalk Farm Road already has a number of other empty properties, despite its premium spot near the Camden markets and footfall for browsing customers. In recent months, a bike shop and guitar shop have closed their doors.

Yesterday shop managers were doing a stock check as they cleared the premises, with its last day of trading taking place last weekend. None were available for comment.

The New Journal could not confirm among former staff rumours of a last-minute rescue package, which could save the Escapade brand name. Administrators Insolve Plus have been appointed to deal with creditors and other aspects of winding down the company.

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