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This year adults wear costumes with a deeper meaning

Tailor and costume-maker Rick Haven (right) and fellow Tea Party activist William Temple (left) in Revolutionary regalia at a Tea Party rally in St. Augustine, Florida, on Sept. 18. An authentic outfit from the colonial period can cost $1,000 or more.

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JEREMY HOBSON: At this hour, some Halloween parties are probably still going on right now here in LA. But we are ready to make one conclusion about Halloween 2010. Americans spent substantially more on the holiday this year than they did last year.

And as Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports, plenty of that cash went for economic and political costumes.


MITCHELL HARTMAN: While most retail's been in the doldrums, Halloween bucked the trend this year, with sales up nearly 4 percent. And more costumes than ever went to grownups, says retail analyst Nikoleta Panteva at IBISWorld.

NIKOLETA PANTEVA: Especially during a time when all we're worrying about is our finances and are we going to have a job tomorrow, it's just kind of a nice relief even for the adults.

Americans spent more than $2 billion on costumes alone. And some of those played off the country's economic woes and upcoming midterm elections.

On Halloween the group Trick or Vote sent thousands of progressive activists door-to-door-in costume. Noah Manger and Mariana Lindsay of Portland described their get-ups.

NOAH MANGER: Throwing on some green jeans, a green turtleneck, and walking around with an iPad all night and I'm going to go as "Green Jobs."

MARIANA LINDSAY: So I'm going to be dressing up in Gap branded clothing, get my cheerleading costume, mix that in, and go as the "Enthusiasm Gap."

There's certainly plenty of enthusiasm on the other side of the political spectrum.

Rick Haven decked himself out as a Revolutionary patriot for a get-out-the-vote event near Jacksonville, Florida, this weekend.

RICK HAVEN: The men's waistcoat-very ornate, very stylish.

Haven's an expert tailor and costume-maker as well as a local Tea Party official. He says he's sold dozens of Revolutionary outfits.

HAVEN: By the time you do the uniform and the shirt and the socks and the hat and the last guy wanted a cape-we're well over a thousand dollars. So this isn't something cheap.

Talk about wearing your politics on your sleeve.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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