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Dress to impress at Einstein's

Brenda Olesen owns Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental in downtown Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)1 / 5
A variety of masks hang in Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental in downtown Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)2 / 5
Brenda Olesen, owner of Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental in downtown Mitchell, motions to the hundreds of shoes, hats and clothing in her store. (Matt Gade / Republic)3 / 5
Star Wars helmets sit a top a rack of clothes in Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental in downtown Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)4 / 5
Hundreds of shoes fill shelves at Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental in downtown Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)5 / 5

There are never two days alike for Brenda Olesen and her costume shop.

Especially now, as customers flock to her shop in anticipation for Halloween next week. But it's nothing Olesen, owner and designer extraordinaire behind Einstein's Costume and Prop Rental on Mitchell's Main Street, can't handle.

Walking into Einstein's, visitors are greeted with a slew of items organized by decade, and the smiling and excited face of Olesen, who is always happy to help someone with their costume needs.

The large, open space is filled floor to ceiling with clothes, shoes, hats, wigs, jewelry, masks that could make approximately 100,000 different combinations of costumes, Olesen said. In hanging items alone, she has approximately 54,000.

"It doesn't matter what age, this is a fun place to be," she said. " ... Sometimes I tell people we truly try to do the best we can with what we have to work with, but until you're here and see the amount we have to work with, you don't see the humor in that."

To begin the costume process, Olesen first takes the wearer's size, bringing them back to the dressing room area. Once comfortable with selected clothing, she takes them to accessorize, which includes hundreds of types of shoes, jewelry, wigs and masks.

And if there's something not within reach or not quite right for the outfit, there's no need to worry, as Olesen has three floors and a basement packed to the brim with items.

"When I tell you we will do a costume, that's what we're going to do," Olesen said. "If you step in here and you want to look like you were back in the 20's, that's my goal is to make you look like that."

Customer service a top priority

Lining the walls of Einstein's are pictures, old and new, of casts from plays she's helped dress, happy customers on Halloween and parades.

For Olesen, Halloween is not all she provides costumes for, it's just usually the busiest as more people come in a short period time, she said.

And so far this year, it's been good. But with Halloween landing on a Tuesday, she knows there will be many last-minute shoppers.

She's not worried, as in 17 years of business, it's how it always goes. She just wants a happy customer.

"It's important to us that costume fits, that it's comfortable and you look great because you're going to go out and advertise my business," she said, adding that her customer base includes a 300-mile radius around Mitchell. "When they ask where you got your costume and you say Einstein's, I want people to say 'Well, that's awesome.' "

Walking to the second and third floor of Olesen's enormous space, customers will find different categories and aisles from "Cowboy/OutBack" to "Creepy/Gory."

There's also several "fun aisles," as Olesen describes it, full of different costumes including mummies, clowns, pirates, barbarians and vampires. Characters, such as Harry Potter or the Addams Family, can be found in her shop as well.

"There is a lot," she said with a laugh. "I just covered the entire world all the way back to Adam and Eve and try to be every size, both men and women and characters that don't even exist."

A love for vintage

The more stairs customers climb in her building on Main, which was formerly a Knights of Columbus Dance Hall, the more antique and vintage clothing they will find.

And that's how it all started, with Olesen's love for vintage.

Always of a smaller stature, the Viborg native found it hard to find good clothing to fit her as a young child. She soon discovered vintage clothing was the way to go.

In 1989, Olesen moved to Mitchell from Platte, opening her business called Brenda's New You. It was a consignment shop of sorts, Olesen said, and eventually evolved into an antique business. She met her husband, Dan Hauser, shortly after moving to Mitchell. In 2000, she officially opened Einstein's and now, Hauser runs the Antique Mall while Olesen runs Einstein's — both on Mitchell's Main Street.

It's an "entrepreneurial dream come to life," said Mitchell Main Street and Beyond Executive Director Jen Johnston of Olesen.

"Einstein's nationally known costume shop has provided a unique twist to our historic Main Street," she said. "They are a great community-minded family and we have been very fortunate to have watched them grow into what they are today, right in the heart of our city."

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