Taney’s Costume, Balloon Shop Up For Sale In Scranton

October 13, 2018

Storied Costume, Balloon Shop Up For Sale In Scranton

SCRANTON — James O’Hora stopped counting costumes at around 10,000.

When the local theater costume and makeup legend bought Taney’s Costume Shop on North Washington Avenue 45 years ago, he had only 150.

Now, the trove he amassed is for sale. O’Hora is retiring and selling the business lock, stock and rubber masks, he said.

He is willing to teach anyone with a passion for costume making and makeup design the tricks of the trade. He wants the 92-year-old business to stay viable.

He is asking $100,000 for the business, which does not include the building. He leases that.

His asking price includes industrial sewing machines, costume-making equipment and cleaning tools. The buyer also gets a client portfolio that includes many of the region’s school and community theater groups, as well as a thriving decorative balloon business with a delivery van.

Taney’s sells professional theater makeup as well as prosthetics, wigs and props.

O’Hora, now 65, took over what is now the last costume shop of its kind in Northeast Pennsylvania as an optimistic 20-year-old looking for a new venture.

He worked for his dad next door at Joseph F. O’Hora & Sons, a commercial plumbing and heating company that is still there, doing nothing significant, he remembers.

He took out the garbage, swept the floors and got to know his neighbor, Pierce Taney, through a door that connected their shops in the back.

When Taney had a heart attack, O’Hora was by his side. The ailing costumer handed over his keys and asked O’Hora to hold down the fort until he got back.

That day never happened. Taney died in the hospital.

The old man had been in poor health long before he died, and the shop was in rough shape with much of the merchandise still in boxes, O’Hora said.

Not sure what else to do, O’Hora started unpacking, and imagining, while he put the shop back together.

Taney’s sister inherited the place, and advised O’Hora that she would send potential buyers to look. No one ever came.

O’Hora, then a business student at Lackawanna College, made an offer.

In the years that followed, O’Hora attended Wilkes University for costume design. He got licensed as a professional makeup artist and learned how to craft molded masks.

“What impressed me most about him was the fact that he had a broad artistic talent, not only as a costumer, but also as a makeup artist,” said Walter Mitchell, an actor and a fixture in the local theater community.

O’Hora is keeping the business on the market until the summer. He is not looking to make money on the sale, and estimates he could double his money if he auctioned off the costumes and equipment piecemeal — his plan if the business does not sell.

For years, Costumes by Barbara on Main Street in Luzerne was his only real local competition, but that closed in 2017, when owner Barbara Gavlick Hartnett retired and took her costume selling online.

“Taney’s is the only game in town,” Mitchell said, explaining options for theater groups thinned dramatically when Costumes by Barbara closed. “I certainly hope that someone with initiative and drive and love of costuming takes over because that would leave a deep hole.”

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