The city’s oldest costume rental shop

A glimpse into the closet of Joseph Ponton Costumes shop. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Joseph Ponton Costumes celebrates 152 years of business in Montreal

At a time when temporary Halloween costume shops pop up in every available storefront, Joseph Ponton Costumes is celebrating 152 years of creating and renting out costumes. “We first opened our store in the Old Port area of Montreal back in 1865,” said Carmelle Gagné, the co-owner of Joseph Ponton Costumes. “After 149 years, we decided to move [to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve] in August 2014 due to the fact that we all live nearby and it is more convenient for us.”

Co-owner of Joseph Ponton Costumes, Carmelle Gagné gave us a tour of the costume rental shop. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Gagné said many students have chosen to rent rather than purchase costumes for Halloween this year. “Many students are coming [to our store] wanting to be film characters. This year, students want costumes of characters in Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Star Trek and Superheroes,” she said. “Young people come in groups, and they have a lot of fun just dressing up.”


Gagné said it’s important for the store to update its costumes to attract a younger crowd. “Our costumes change every year depending on what’s in fashion. This year, many students are requesting costumes of the clown from the It movie by Stephen King,” Gagné said, adding that Halloween costume requests often depend on what movies and TV shows are popular at the time.“Some of the other popular choices include vampire and demon costumes, especially with films these days, and also clothing from the Middle Ages,” said Jocelyne Brassard, the former owner and now a part-time employee at Joseph Ponton. According to Gagné, one costume that seems to be ageless and unaffected by trends is the cowboy. “Many children and young adults want to be cowboys,” she said. “It is the costume that is the most widely requested by all ages every year.”

Upstairs at Joseph Ponton, costumes are organized by time period. “From hippies to cowboys, we have costumes of all ages, including outfits from the 20s and the 60s,” she said. Downstairs, the selection is a little more miscellaneous, with costumes ranging from the characters in films like Back to the Future to comic book characters and superheros, including the Hulk, Wolverine, Superman, Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn. “We even have costumes for people who want to dress up in groups such as multiple characters of Star Trek,” Gagné added.

The atelier where costumes get created and altered. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Aside from co-owning the store, Gagné works as a seamstress for Joseph Ponton Costumes. She especially enjoys creating handmade Victorian-style costumes. “I first started making costumes for theatres, and now I do it for Joseph Ponton Costumes,” she said. As for renting a costume, the price ranges from $35 to $150. “When people come here, we ask for a deposit, which is the same price of the costume,” Brassard said. “The rental period is from Thursday to Monday for weekends, and 48 hours for weekdays.”

According to Brassard, since many people order their costumes online these days, the ones who come to the store are people who want to specifically try out the garments or find unique costumes. “Here, that is our specialty,” Brassard said. “When we first opened, our goal was [and still is] to provide handmade costumes for our customers.”

Although shopping for costumes online has become a trend over the past years, Brassard recommends students come experience what the store has to offer. “You need to at least come and visit,” she said, emphasizing the shop’s handmade selection. “See what we have to offer because we do have many beautiful costumes that you cannot find elsewhere.”

Photos by Mackenzie Lad

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