Kindness of strangers highlighted in Costumes Galore blaze

UPDATED

COSTUMES Galore shop owner Robert Polzin has been amazed by the community spirit and goodwill since losing his business in a fire.

Even while the Daily was visiting Mr Polzin's Newspaper Place site at lunch time, a stranger arrived simply offering help.

The smartly dressed, middle-aged man approached Mr Polzin saying he wanted to volunteer.

Mr Polzin said he wasn't the first person to come up to him offering help and condolences.

"I was at Bunnings this morning and people saw my shirt and the car and came out to me and said they were so sorry," Mr Polzin said.

"One lad in Bunnings was really upset, she made me well up too."

Shop owners neighbouring Costumes Galore have now been allowed to inspect their premises for the first time since the devastating fire.

But Mr  Polzin has to remain outside his shop waiting for building inspectors, insurance and fire investigators to give the all-clear.

Costumers were still arriving to return their costumes, oblivious what is believed to be the largest costume supplier in Australia was no more.

Mr Polzin said he had people trickle through all morning bringing costumes back and still others arriving hoping to book their latest gear.

 

EARLIER

THE charred remains of 10,000 costumes and the acrid smell of burnt plastic lingers outside the costume shop Robert Polzin invested his life savings in.

This morning Mr Polzin could only stand outside his Costumes Galore  entrance in Newspaper Place and examine the damage from the outside while waiting for building engineers to test whether the fire which swept through his shop caused any structural damage.

A security guard has been manned on site since the fire broke out around lunch time yesterday to stop people, including neighbouring businesses, from entering their places of work.


READ: Fire investigators await engineer's all clear


Mr Polzin fought back tears as he described how quickly his business went up in smoke.

He had arrived at the premise yesterday morning as he needed to send a wig to a customer in Sydney.

"I was about to leave when I went back in to get the wig and smelt some smoke," Mr Polzin said.

"I went out the back and saw some flames."

He immediately went to the front of the shop to call triple 000. By the time he got out back again the flames had spread and the fire was out of control.

"In the time I was talking to them it had tripled in size," he said.

"We have 10,000 costumes in here."

It took firies less than five minutes to arrive on the scene and cut a whole through the roller door of the neighbouring business, Signwave, to enter the site.

By this stage, the fire was engulfing the shop.

"We had rails and rails of customes in there," Mr Polzin said.

"We believe we were the largest supplier of customes in Australia.  It is all gone

"It is totally devastating.  It was our livelihood and we enjoyed doing it.

"We always had fun people, happy people who we were coming in to buy stuff."

A fire destroyed a Costume business in Maroochydore. Fire crews worked to control the blaze. Owner Robert Polzin is devastated.
A fire destroyed a Costume business in Maroochydore. Fire crews worked to control the blaze. Owner Robert Polzin is devastated. john mccutcheon

The cause of the fire remains unknown and fire investigators will have to get the all-clear from the building engineer before further determining the cause.

Mr Polzin thinks it could be electrical, but had no idea.

His main concern at this time was finding work for his four staff, including his two daughters and two casuals who worked on site.

"We will be ok, we have insurance, but we need to find work for our staff," Mr Polzin said.

He also hoped it wouldn't take long before the neighbouring businesses, Signwave and Ultimate Shower Screens could re-open.

Included in the destroyed costumes was a giant Flintstone, a shark and even Batman was destroyed in the blaze.

Burnt costumes litter the entrance.
Burnt costumes litter the entrance. Che Chapman

"Some of the costumes we've had for 20 years, they were massive," he said.

"It's hard to put an estimate how much they all cost, they were priceless to us.  Some costumes were worth over $2000 and others were only worth $40.

"Some were made on the Sunshine Coast."

Mr Polzin hopes in the future to rebuild and re-open, but for today his focus was on taking stock.

He was grateful for the outpouring of community support that started since word of the fire spread.

A fundraising page, Let's restore Costumes Galore has been started on Gofundme to help get the business back on its feet.  



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