BuySeasons sharpens competitive edge by diversifying, hiring seasonal workers

New Berlin-based online costume retailer winds down successful busy season

BuySeasons corporate headquarters in New Berlin

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

September and October have historically been the busiest months of the year for online costume retailer BuySeasons, but the company has noticed a delay in peak demand time as customers grow accustomed to Amazon-grade delivery speeds.

“The interest is definitely shifting more and more toward waiting to the absolute last minute to order something, and I think that’s largely due to Amazon in the marketplace,” said Tom Johnston, director of paid search at BuySeasons.

The New Berlin-based company often uses Google Trends to track overall consumer interest over time, Johnston said. For example, data for the week of Oct. 13 to 19 this year shows there were fewer web searches for “halloween costumes” than there were during the same week last year.

He said the past few seasons have started slow, but reach a steeper peak that each year falls closer and closer to Halloween.

“I think most consumers are accustomed to the idea of ordering something and getting it within two days and so,” said Johnston.

BuySeasons was founded in 1999. It was acquired in 2017 by New York-based Rubie’s Costume Co. for $18.5 million.

The company sells costumes, accessories, seasonal décor and party supplies to consumers and large retailers on its three e-commerce sites, BuyCostumes.com, BirthdayExpress.com and CostumeExpress.com, but now also on Walmart.com and Target.com and of course, Amazon.com.

These days, staying competitive against the online retail giant is all about diversification, Johnston said.

“It’s a matter of if you can’t beat them, join them,” he said.

BuySeasons has about 100 full-time employees at its warehouse and headquarters, a 470,000-square-foot leased facility at 5915 S. Moorland Road. It bulks up for the September and October rush by hiring about 400 temporary seasonal workers, Johnston said. 

Bringing in seasonal employees has helped improve productivity at the distribution center. and is a “vital part of our success,” he said.

Johnston did not disclose details on yearly revenue, but said this year’s busy season, now winding down, has been successful so far as the company focuses on efficiency and profitability.

“We were able to hit exactly where we wanted to be this season,” he said.

In 2017, BizTimes Milwaukee reported BuySeason’s revenues have fallen from $83 million in 2014 to $73 million in 2015 and $52 million in 2016 as BuySeasons faced increased competition from online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.