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Queens Mom-and-Pop Company Makes Halloween Costumes for the World

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today, Halloween costumes made at Rubie's are sold everywhere—at Wal-Mart, Party City, and Stewarts, among others. But Rubie's Costume Company, which claims to sell the most Halloween costumes in the world, isn't what you expect.

The business was founded over 60 years ago on Jamaica Avenue and 84th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, a mostly residential community which is home to a diverse population and the biggest Guyanese community in the U.S. Today, the company's offices, workshop, and single storefront costume shop, are still in the neighborhood—just up the block on 120th Street.

Rubie's began as a small candy shop, and is still 100 percent family-owned. In the '70s, adding a line of costumes to the candy business turned the company into a veritable juggernaut with offices around the world and some 4,500 workers. Much of the costume manufacturing has moved overseas to China, but Rubie's still runs a mid-sized factory in its Jamaica Avenue building that creates samples and ships out short-order runs.

Click below to watch an audio slideshow about Rubie's. Rueben Biege, the grandson of the company's founder, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the facilities, and clues us into what it takes to make it in the trick-or-treat biz. (Plus, learn what a Halloween costume company does during the rest of the year!)

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