SILVER SPRING – Bush leads Kerry in mask sales at Costumes Creative in Silver Spring, Kerry leads Bush at Gene’s Costumes in Kensington, while sales have split between the two at Artistic Dance Fashions in Bethesda.
What does it mean? Nothing, said Costumes Creative owner T.J. Pekin. Check out Vegas if you want to see who’s up in Maryland.
Since 1980, the candidate who has sold the most masks has become president, according to a national poll conducted by www.buycostumes.com. As of Oct. 29, Bush led 54 to 46.
But Pekin, who has been selling masks since Jimmy Carter’s first campaign in 1976, said there is no rhyme or reason for the popularity of one candidate’s mask over another’s.
He could not say why President Bush’s mask was outselling Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s mask this week in heavily Democratic Montgomery County. Maybe people think Bush is just better looking than Kerry, or maybe they have sinister intentions for the president’s face.
“That’s not something that you’re privy to, whether he’s going to be loved or lampooned,” Pekin said.
For shoppers at the store this week, their reasons for choosing one mask or another appeared more practical than political.
Caroline Hutchison, a Republican, was considering a mask of former first lady Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. Why not Laura Bush?
“I don’t know, Hillary looked more like people would know if people saw that,” the Silver Spring resident said. “Plus, I’m blond.”
With help from her friend, Changala Chisanga, Hutchison ultimately dropped Clinton in favor of Homer Simpson. Not because of politics or price — Homer was cheaper than Hillary — but because Hutchison would have to wear a business suit for Clinton but could just stuff a pillow in front of some old jeans for Homer.
In other Maryland stores, Kerry sales were running closer to his polling numbers in the state, where he has a comfortable lead over Bush.
At Party City in Owings Mills, the two-dozen Kerry’s were gone by Oct. 12, but the same number of Bushes lasted until the Oct. 23, said employee Chris Young.
At Gene’s Costumes in Kensington, manager Ginger Agar thought Bush would be more popular, but Kerry has been selling so well that she had to order a dozen more to keep up with demand.
But at Artistic Dance Fashions in Bethesda, employee Ellen Eanet said both Bush and Kerry sales have been lukewarm.
“It’s been equal, a total perfect split,” Eanet said.
Nixon has beaten both.
“He is a classic political figure,” said owner Ellen East.
At Artistic Costumes and Dance Fashions in Towson, people often buy Kerry and Bush as a set, said employee Randy Mullins.
Artistic Costumes owner Harriett Berlin said that because there is no Teresa Heinz Kerry mask, one lady got a full-body ketchup squirt bottle for herself and a Kerry half-mask and mustard bottle costume for her husband.
“I’m going to try to sell the rest of my ketchup and mustard bottles that way,” Berlin said.
Pekin said he initially sold about two-dozen each of Kerry and Bush, and Kerry was actually leading by a mask Wednesday afternoon. Bush started flying off the shelves that evening but “then (former President) Clinton made an appearance.”
Pekin does not take his store’s “purely, totally unscientific and unsubstantiated” mask count too seriously, but said it is as good a predictor as any.
“This is just as reliable as the polls,” Pekin said. “The betting line in Las Vegas — I bet you they’re far more accurate.”
-30- CNS 10-29-04