Financial distress no Apparition: Claremont Costume shop

Nigel Devenport outside his costume shop in Claremont. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
Nigel Devenport outside his costume shop in Claremont. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

APPARITION Costume Hire owner Nigel Devenport is usually run off his feet at Halloween, but last week the Claremont shop was eerily quiet.

Mr Devenport said income had dropped by 40 per cent since LandCorp started roadworks for the Claremont on the Park redevelopment in May.

“More or less the second they started digging holes, business went straight down through the floor,” he said.

“We’re behind these fences and piles of dirt and big machines, so it looks like the shop is either closed or being demolished.

“We noticed a further kick-down when they closed Shenton Road for 10 weeks. The final straw was when the seven-bay carpark next to us was taken over.”

LandCorp metropolitan general manager Luke Willcock said LandCorp had provided significant assistance and worked closely with Apparition Costume Hire to minimise disruptions as much as possible.

“Once Claremont on the Park is complete, existing businesses will benefit from the revitalised area,” Mr Willcock said.

Mr Devenport launched an online petition called ‘Save Apparition Costume Hire from extinction’ last week, which received more than 500 signatures in its first few days.

“I’m trying to pressure LandCorp into providing some financial compensation,” Mr Devenport said.

“That’s the bottom line.

“Otherwise, after 34 years we may be forced to close.”

Landcorp provided ‘open for business’ newspaper advertising, community flyers and extra signage to help Apparition Costume Hire counteract the loss of revenue.

“To minimise disruptions regarding parking, LandCorp has also facilitated temporary parking arrangements through agreement with the Town of Claremont and Claremont Lawn Tennis Club,” Mr Willcock said.

Although Mr Devenport said he appreciated LandCorp’s efforts, he said they were not enough.

“Current figures show we have lost about $18,500,” Mr Devenport said.

“LandCorp told me they are legally constrained about paying money, but we need to be compensated or else we won’t survive.”

Mr Devenport said he had reduced staff hours and not taken a salary in three months.

“The nature of this business is that what we make in this half of the year keeps us going for the next half,” he said.

“Now we are going into the downtime with nothing in the tanks. It is fairly brutal.”

Mr Willcock said the Claremont Crescent intersection outside the costume shop was scheduled to be completed this month.

“From mid-November, Apparition will have access to four new car bays immediately outside the shop,” he said.

Mr Devenport said LandCorp had told him they loved supporting “niche little businesses” like Apparition Costume Hire.

“But if the operation succeeds and the patient dies, then there’s not much point,” he said.

Murdoch University performing arts associate professor Jennifer de Reuck signed Mr Devenport’s online petition last Tuesday.

“Apparition is crucial to the success of my productions at Murdoch and by extension to the development of students’ theatre practice,” Ms de Reuck wrote.

“The business should not have to cope with this disruption to what is a real service to the theatre community.”