How to Thrift Your Halloween Costume for an Unforgettable Look

Second Glance’s Jackie Colussi Shares Tips and Tricks for Creating a Costume from Scratch

With pumpkins on doorsteps, falling leaves and a crisp breeze in the air, the time has come to start planning your annual Halloween costume.  

For Jackie Colussi, shift leader at Second Glance, the thrift store of The Open Door, thrifting for Halloween costumes is a beloved tradition she maintained with her daughters as they grew up and enjoys to this day. She previously owned a business selling vintage items, and has a love of fashion that fuels, in part, her love of crafting an entirely unique costume.  

“We always enjoyed thrift shopping anyway. When it was Halloween time, we took it as a personal challenge,” Colussi said. “We always wanted to come up with something unique and different, and something we created ourselves. It took time and imagination, and we had fun doing it.”  

She says one of her favorite thrifted costumes was a dead prom queen look her daughter once wore, which included an all-gray formal outfit and a poufy veil. 

“You’re only limited, in my opinion, by your imagination,” Colussi said. “You might have to purchase some makeup or fake blood, but it definitely makes for an interesting costume. I think there’s a lot to be said for buying and reusing as well, and its more cost efficient.”

“There’s not a lot a pair of scissors and a hot glue gun can’t do,” she added.

Colussi also says for many, thrifting for a costume at Second Glance is a more meaningful experience, because patrons know all revenue supports the programs at The Open Door and helps feed local people. 

For those looking to thrift their costume this year, Colussi has shared tips and tricks for getting started: 

  1. Brainstorm costume ideas before you shop. Go to the thrift store with a few costume ideas in mind and know what you might need to build that costume. Colussi says this is particularly helpful for parents and guardians shopping for a young child’s costume. 
  2. Keep an open mind. She says you never know what you mind find, or what item(s) might stick out to you as you browse. 
  1. Give yourself time and don’t limit yourself to the clothing section. Don’t rush the creative process—part of the fun is browsing the various clothing departments, accessories, jewelry, shoes, fabric, art supplies, household wares, and so on that could be turned into clothing and props for your costume.  
  2. Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to turn your costume into an art project or re-imagine something. For example: a curtain or lace tablecloth can be cut and sewn to suit a wide variety of costumes, fake flowers can be fashioned into a flower crown, and a large frame without a painting or photo in it can be perfect for someone who would like to dress up as a painting themselves. 
  3. Don’t forget the classics. She says classic Halloween costumes, like a witch or warlock, are often easy to shop for at a thrift store as black tops and dresses are almost always in stock, and accessories can be found to suit the look too. 

Once you have your costume ready, don’t forget to enter Second Glance’s Halloween contest! Details below.

Second Glance Halloween Costume Contest Details:  

Second Glance is holding its FIRST EVER Halloween Costume Contest this year. To enter, participants must create a costume using at least one item from Second Glance, post a photo on Instagram and tag the thrift store at @secondglancethriftstore. The deadline for entry is midnight on Oct. 31, and the winner will be announced Nov. 1 on Instagram after being selected by a small panel of staff and volunteers. The winner will receive a $50 Second Glance Gift Card. 

Questions? Give us a call at 978-283-4298.  

SmartChoice™ at The Open Door Modernizes Pantry Shopping

New Online Ordering System Returns Agency to Shoppers

GLOUCESTER — A new online ordering system at The Open Door has expanded choice more than ever before for client shoppers.

SmartChoice™ at The Open Door launched this June and allows clients to place a weekly grocery order that matches any special dietary needs they may have as well as their taste. Clients select from featured items, fruit and juices, vegetables, protein and dairy, ready-to-eat items, grains and cereal, baking, snacks, condiments, special dietary items, pet supplies, household supplies, health and hygiene products, baby food and supplies, and miscellaneous items.

Once clients sign into SmartChoice™ at The Open Door at FOODPANTRY.org/order, they can use the above menu to create their weekly grocery order. (Image Courtesy of
The Open Door)

“When people choose their own groceries, we know they’re getting the food they’ll eat and enjoy to thrive,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “We’re proud to have this new resource for our clients.”

Before the online ordering system became available, The Open Door provided bags of pre-selected groceries for clients starting in March 2020 in response to the pandemic. This was done through a Curbside, No-Contact model used at both the Gloucester and Ipswich food pantries, and protected the health and well-being of clients, volunteers, and staff alike while also expanding the nonprofit’s capacity to meet increased need. While the curbside model was necessary to feed more people, it left shoppers with less personal choice.

At the height of the pandemic, The Open Door met a 40% increase in need for food resources, and continues to meet ongoing need.

Today, clients are still picking-up their groceries at either site or receiving deliveries if they qualify for The Open Door grocery and meal delivery program. However, SmartChoice™ at The Open Door brings more choice to the table than ever before. It accounts for every item available in The Open Door’s inventory, working seamlessly in partnership with the warehouse. Grocery orders are managed by the Fulfillment Center, where staff and volunteers package grocery orders Monday through Friday.

Volunteer Laurie Fenton prepares a grocery order placed via SmartChoice™ at
The Open Door. (Image Courtesy of The Open Door)

Translation services are available over the phone in many languages. Those without internet access, with questions, or who prefer to place their order by phone are welcome to do so by calling 978-283-6776.   

About The Open Door


The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security.

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit and community food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 2020, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,681 unduplicated people from 4,703 households through the distribution of 2.46 million pounds of food, amounting to 2.05 million meals. Requests for food assistance during this pandemic year were up 27 percent.

Programs of The Open Door include two food pantries (located in Gloucester and in Ipswich), 12 Mobile Markets, Community Meals, SNAP Application assistance and Advocacy, Medically Tailored Groceries, Nutrition Education, Therapy and Counseling, Food Rescue, Summer Meals for Kids, On Your Mark Job Training and Internships, Holiday Baskets, Senior Soup & Salad, (NEW) SmartChoice™ at The Open Door and (NEW) Grocery and Meal Delivery. Second Glance, the thrift store of The Open Door, provides revenue for the organization, referrals for people in need, and recycles textiles and other materials.

For more information, visit FOODPANTRY.org.  

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Empty Bowl TO GO

EMPTY BOWL TO GO on Saturday, May 22, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Open Door (28 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester)

A new twist on an old tradition. Join The Open Door to mark the 20th Anniversary of this beloved community event. Empty Bowl TO GO is a by-appointment-only, drive-thru experience held this year at The Open Door, 28 Emerson Avenue in Gloucester.

Last year, thousands of people faced the uncertain drive to a food pantry for the first time. On May 22, guests will follow the same route down Emerson Avenue that became a lifeline for so many during the pandemic to pick up your simple meal—soup, bread, and a cookie at The Open Door. As always, the bowl will go home as a reminder that somewhere, someone’s bowl is empty.

Tickets: This year has been hard on the pocketbook, so we are pleased to offer “pay-what-you-can” tickets so everyone can enjoy this community tradition. You must have a ticketed reservation! www.foodpantry.org

For each ticket you reserve, you will receive:

  • A beautiful bowl made with love, randomly selected and prepackaged.
  • Homemade soup—chowder, chicken, vegan, or gluten-free—ready for you to take home and reheat.
  • Bread, cookie, and a bottle of water to round out your meal.

As always, the bowl will go home as a reminder that somewhere someone’s bowl is empty.

Cape Ann Artists’ Bowls Online Auction!

Artists have once again come to the table with unique bowls for auction.

Bidding: www.biddingowl.com/theopendoor

A display of the auction bowls is available for viewing at Cape Ann Savings Bank. The auction will be open through May 31 for your bidding pleasure. No matter where you live, you can bid! Shipping options are available.

Finding Practical Solutions to Ending Food Waste: A Panel Discussion hosted by Sawyer Free Libary and Backyard Growers

Did you know 33% of all food produced globally is lost or wasted? Food waste is central to some of the key challenges facing the world today, including hunger and poverty, climate change, health and wellbeing, and the sustainability of agriculture and oceans.

To bring attention to this growing global problem, the Sawyer Free Library and Backyard Growers are co-hosting a virtual panel discussion around the topic of food waste on Thursday, April 28, from 6-7 pm.  The live virtual presentation is free and open to the public. Click here to register.

Moderated by Lara Lepionka, Founder & Executive Director, Backyard Growers, the program will provide both broad knowledge and a local perspective of the issues of food waste, along with some actionable steps individuals can take to help make a difference in its reduction. 

The program panelists include Andrew Brousseau, Partner, Compost Manager, Black Earth Compost, Brittany Peats, Program Manager, MA Food System Collaborative, and Gary Sprague, Food Acquisition and Distribution Manager, The Open Door.  Each panelist will have the opportunity to talk about their community organization’s focus and practical recommendations to address the critical issue of food waste in our community.

Following their remarks, there will be a moderated Q&A session.  For more information on the Finding Practical Solutions to End Food Waste Panel Discussion and the Library’s other programs and offerings, please visit sawyerfreelibray.org

The Book Fair at The Glance!

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

Second Glance Thrift Store | 2 Pond Road, Gloucester

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Second Glance Thrift Store presents The Book Fair at The Glance with a wide variety of reading choices. Come shop from a selection of high-quality books pulled from premium inventory and saved for this special two-day blowout event. Thousands of titles are available at this book bonanza with something for everyone.

The Book Fair at The Glance on Facebook

Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. All proceeds benefit The Open Door.

The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. The Open Door serves residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex, Ipswich, Topsfield, Boxford, Rowley, Hamilton, and Wenham.

To find out more about The Open Door or donate online, visit FOODPANTRY.ORG.

The Open Door Empty Bowl Dinner

Join The Open Door for an evening of food and hospitality at the 17th Annual Empty Bowl Dinner and celebrate a beloved North Shore tradition on Thursday, May 11, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Cruiseport Gloucester.

The meal is simple—soup, bread and a cookie. Guests can choose and keep a special soup bowl created for this community event. The bowl goes home as an unspoken reminder that somewhere someone’s bowl is empty.

Tickets available at the door. $15 for adults and $10 for children under ten. Extra parking is available at Harbor Beach with complimentary trolley service to and from the event site.

Empty Bowl events are held nationally to generate awareness concerning hunger and to raise money for local hunger-relief programs. Proceeds from this event will benefit The Open Door Summer Meals and Mobile Market programs.

Sneak Peek at some of the 2017 Silent Auction Items: