n the two weeks leading up to today, Marc Beige has barely left his Queens, N.Y., office. He has kept his calendar empty -- save for issues needing immediate attention. And he hasn't taken just anyone's phone call.
While the 62-year-old president and CEO of Rubie's Costume Co., is hardly reclusive, during the final days before Halloween, Beige had spent hours poring over how well this year's costumes are selling. Will Lady Gaga still be white hot? Will Charlie Sheen be just another celeb flash in the pan? Will still bring in the crowds?
Beige may be spooked, but he's not nervous. Rubie's Costume Co. has grown from a mom-and-pop shop into a thriving, $100 million mass-market juggernaut with the rise of the Halloween industry. And after nearly four decades of running the New York-based costume manufacturer with his brother, sister and, more recently, their children, knowing what costumes and accessories will be in demand year by year has become second nature. Of course, nearly cornering the market in Hollywood- and comic book-character licenses also helps.
With more than 150 active licenses, Rubie's offers a wide cast of characters -- from Superman and Batman to Princess Leia and Smurfette -- to help keep the costume-maker's books in the black. But, of course, you never know how edgier or new costumes will perform. "It's more of an art than a science," says Beige.