Owner of 45 years plans to re­tire, wants busi­ness to en­dure


SCRAN­TON — James O’hora stopped count­ing cos­tumes at around 10,000.

When the lo­cal theater cos­tume and makeup leg­end bought Taney’s Cos­tume Shop on North Wash­ing­ton Av­enue 45 years ago, he had only 150.

Now, the trove he amassed is for sale. O’hora is re­tir­ing and sell­ing the busi­ness lock, stock and rub­ber masks, he said.

He is will­ing to teach any­one with a pas­sion for cos­tume mak­ing and makeup de­sign the tricks of the trade. He wants the 92-year-old busi­ness to stay vi­able.

He is ask­ing $100,000 for the busi­ness, which does not in­clude the build­ing. He leases that.

His ask­ing price in­cludes in­dus­trial sewing ma­chines, cos­tume-mak­ing equip­ment and clean­ing tools. The buyer also gets a client port­fo­lio that in­cludes many of the re­gion’s school and com­mu­nity theater groups, as well as a thriv­ing dec­o­ra­tive bal­loon busi­ness with a de­liv­ery van.

Taney’s sells pro­fes­sional theater makeup as well as pros­thet­ics, wigs and props.

O’hora, now 65, took over what is now the last cos­tume shop of its kind in North­east Penn­syl­va­nia as an op­ti­mistic 20-year-old look­ing for a new ven­ture.

He worked for his dad next door at Joseph F. O’hora & Sons, a com­mer­cial plumb­ing and heat­ing com­pany that is still there, do­ing noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant, he re­mem­bers.

He took out the garbage, swept the floors and got to know his neigh­bor, Pierce Taney, through a door that con­nected their shops in the back.

When Taney had a heart at­tack, O’hora was by his side. The ail­ing cos­tumer handed over his keys and asked O’hora to hold down the fort un­til he got back.

That day never hap­pened. Taney died in the hospi­tal.

The old man had been in poor health long be­fore he died, and the shop was in rough shape with much of the mer­chan­dise still in boxes, O’hora said.

Not sure what else to do, O’hora started un­pack­ing, and imag­in­ing, while he put the shop back to­gether.

Taney’s sis­ter in­her­ited the place, and ad­vised O’hora that she would send po­ten­tial buy­ers to look. No one ever came.

O’hora, then a busi­ness stu­dent at Lack­awanna Col­lege, made an of­fer.

In the years that fol­lowed, O’hora at­tended Wilkes Uni­ver­sity for cos­tume de­sign. He got li­censed as a pro­fes­sional makeup artist and learned how to craft molded masks.

“What im­pressed me most about him was the fact that he had a broad artis­tic tal­ent, not only as a cos­tumer, but also as a makeup artist,” said Wal­ter Mitchell, an ac­tor and a fix­ture in the lo­cal theater com­mu­nity.

O’hora is keep­ing the busi­ness on the mar­ket un­til the sum­mer. He is not look­ing to make money on the sale, and es­ti­mates he could dou­ble his money if he auc­tioned off the cos­tumes and equip­ment piece­meal — his plan if the busi­ness does not sell.

For years, Cos­tumes by Barbara on Main Street in Luzerne was his only real lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion, but that closed in 2017, when owner Barbara Gavlick Hart­nett re­tired and took her cos­tume sell­ing on­line.

“Taney’s is the only game in town,” Mitchell said, ex­plain­ing op­tions for theater groups thinned dra­mat­i­cally when Cos­tumes by Barbara closed. “I cer­tainly hope that some­one with ini­tia­tive and drive and love of cos­tum­ing takes over be­cause that would leave a deep hole.” Con­tact the writer: jo­con­nell@timessham­; 570-348-9131; @jon_oc on Twit­ter


TOP: James O’hora is re­tir­ing and sell­ing the busi­ness he owned for 45 years. He’s ask­ing $100,000 for the busi­ness, which does not in­clude the build­ing he leases for it.


ABOVE: Masks on dis­play in­side Taney’s Cos­tume Shop on North Wash­ing­ton Av­enue in Scran­ton.

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