As soon as Sarafina Panasside heard Mitt Romney say last week that he would kill funding for PBS, she knew it: the Big Bird bounce was going to change Halloween season.
“Sure enough,” said Ms. Panasside, 31, a cashier at the Halloween Adventure costume shop near Union Square, “three people came in and bought the costumes when I came in the next day.”
As costume shops across New York City prepare for Halloween, Big Bird – singled out by Mr. Romney during the presidential debate last week as the embodiment of wasteful federal spending – is the flavor of the moment.
Several shops, including Halloween Adventure, said Tuesday that after the Obama campaign rushed out an ad mocking Mr. Romney as demonizing Big Bird, they had sold out, and were ordering more. Other shops that did not stock the costume said that people had been asking for it.
At the Ricky’s on West 34th Street, not too far from Times Square’s many tip-seeking Elmos, Jonathan Caraballo said that some customers had asked for the full-body suits, but did not seem particularly interested in the partial version that lacks feet and leaves the wearer’s face exposed.
Nationally, at Disguise Costumes in Poway, Calif., officially licensed manufacturer of Sesame Street costumes, Maddie Gerety, the product manager, said there has been a big spike in Big Bird sales – particularly in the adult male size.
Strong sales or no, Big Bird’s bosses at Sesame Street seem unamused. The nonprofit behind the PBS show has asked the Obama campaign to stop using Big Bird in its political advertising.
But Ms. Panasside is happy to stir the pot.
“My last customer called 20 minutes ago and asked if I had Big Bird,” she said. “And I said, ‘No, Mitt Romney took them all.’”