November 28, 2018 8:27 pm
Updated: November 28, 2018 8:37 pm

Calgary dance and costume shop gets ready for final curtain call

WATCH: The Masque is closing its doors after 45 years of serving Calgarians and Southern Alberta with dancewear and costumes. Tomasia DaSilva explains why it's closing and the message its owners have for all shoppers in Calgary.


A long-time Calgary business will close its doors for good on Dec. 2, 2018 after 45 years in business.

The Masque, which prides itself on being Calgary’s original dance and costume company, was started by Donna Booth.

Booth was an Alberta costume designer who quickly turned her passion into a successful venture.

“The first year we opened we had police crowd control,” daughter Cynthia Collens said. “It was so busy.”

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Over the years, the business faced more growth and more challenges.

It restructured a number of times, changed locations, even changed the merchandise it sold.

When Donna died, her daughter Cynthia and daughter-in-law Linda Booth took it over.

But now they’ve decided to retire and were hoping to find new owners to take over the iconic Calgary business.

“We had a couple of buyers,” Booth said. “But unfortunately, the financing didn’t go through.”

It’s not a unique situation across Canada.

A new Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey found 72 per cent of small business owners are planning to retire in the next 10 years, putting more than $1.5 trillion in business assets in play.

The survey also found only eight per cent of those planning to retire have a formal succession plan, while 51 per cent have no plan at all.

Collens and Booth had a plan; they planned to sell the business, but again, no buyer.

So they’ve decided to simply shut it down.

“We wanted to go out on a really high note,” Collens said, “not be pushed out of business because of the economy.”

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It’s an economy that has tested many small businesses in Calgary and across Alberta.

Retailers have been hit especially hard thanks to the growing popularity of online shopping.

Collens said many customers would come in, try things on, then leave and go buy them online, hurting sales and taking up the staff’s time.

The Masque is encouraging Calgarians and all shoppers to consider buying local.

“A lot of people think that small business owners are just rolling in the dough,” Booth said.

“They don’t realize the blood, sweat and tears that goes into running a small business.”

Collens and Booth realize it. That’s why they’ve passed on some of their remaining product to local theatrical and community dance groups at a reduced cost.

They hope it will help them out, support the arts, and keep The Masque alive in some small way.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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