If you grew up in Miami, Little Havana was where you wanted to be come Halloween. It wasn’t the trick-or-treating you looked forward to (abuelitas aren’t generous with the candy), rather it was shopping for a costume at La Casa de los Trucos, which celebrates its 45th anniversary on September 8. The family-owned shop—chock-full of gadgets, getups and gags—is run by Carmen Torres and her son Jorge, who gave us a glimpse into the dress-up business.
Is this the store’s original location?
The store started in Old Havana, Cuba more than a century ago. It was owned by a different family and, with their permission, my father opened it in Little Havana in 1972. The original building looked like something out of The Wizard of Oz—it was on cinder blocks. This storefront was built [behind it] in 1980.
You’re open year-round. What do you sell?
We started as a jokes and magic store, and we’re still that. We have original jokes that no one else has—like some shocking, exploding items. We also sell our own original, regional costumes that are popular during Hispanic Heritage Month in October. They’re of really high quality, so the stuff is more so attire than it is costume.
How many costumes do you have in stock?
We carry more than 15,000 styles in at least three sizes (some are available in plus size) and in multiple colors. It’s a lot!
What requests for weird costumes have you received?
We sell funny costumes, like condoms or men dressed up as women—Bro White, Cinderfella. This year, we have Beauty is a Beast, which is a new male
When is the best time to shop for a costume?
We’ll have everything in stock by early September. Come to the store, try it on, and see if you like it.
Of all the gags you carry, which one always kills?
The whoopee cushion/fart machine. It’s timeless. We also carry a fake stinky perfume called Liquid Ass. It’s potent.
What’s hot for 2017?
I would say Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Beauty and the Beast and Minions.
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