Long-time costume and mascot store sells inventory

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CINCINNATI — These are curtains for a longtime costume shop, whose work has been used across the country for decades, including at the White House.

Schenz theater supply, on Colerain Avenue in Camp Washington, will close once its inventory is sold. It closes the curtain on decades of business, outfitting stage productions, parties and mascots.

“We’ve designed and manufactured in-store costumes for full shows like My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, all those as well as specializing in dance shoes, other types of performance costumes,” said director John Ray. “We’ve outfitted everything from strippers to opera.”

John Schenz established the company in 1965 and ran it with partner Stephen Rausch until his death in 2020. Rausch died in May 2021.

Schenz and Rausch have designed costumes and mascots for companies like Slush Puppy, Chiquita, Key Bank and Hardees. In 1981, Schenz began designing and maintaining the Easter Bunny mascots for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. He continued until his death.

Emily Gibney

Schenz Theatrical Supply opened in 1965, serving countless productions and corporate projects, including the Easter Bunny mascots used at the White House.

In fact, the White House costumes live there, and costume house officials said they’re headed to the Smithsonian Institute.

WCPO profiled John Schenz and his journey to the White House job in 2015.

“Different jurisdictions have done it differently,” Schenz said then, laughing. “I had one of the colonels in the White House military office look at me and say, ‘This is the best thing I’ve done since I’ve been in this office.'”

You can watch the feature below.

The costume house will close soon, although an exact date has not been chosen, according to its manager Ray. He said much of the theatrical costume inventory has found new homes with other costume houses, leaving mostly fixtures and vintage clothing for sale at Camp Washington.

The closure is the result of a perfect storm of change and loss.

“Since the owners passed away, we knew it was going to be difficult to continue, but we certainly put in a lot of effort, a lot of volunteers, a lot of people showed up to help,” Ray said. “Between the changes that have taken place in the industry over the last 20 or so years and especially the COVID crisis in addition to the deaths of owners, it has been impossible to continue.”

Schenz Theatrical Supply is open Tuesday through Saturday, for now.


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