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New shop specializes in helping customers get into character

bizO-Dyer_Jessica_BizOFor Bek Miller, life has come to resemble an extended Halloween.

She spends her days surrounded by wigs, specialized craft supplies and customers clamoring to dress themselves as their favorite fictional character – whether that’s Cinderella, Ironman or even an obscure hero from the animé realm.

Bek Miller recently opened Just Cos at 3700 Osuna NE. She's pictured near a costume created at the business.  (Marla Brose / Albuquerque Journal)

Bek Miller recently opened Just Cos at 3700 Osuna NE. She’s pictured near a costume created at the business. (Marla Brose / Albuquerque Journal)

That was precisely the point of Just Cos, her new venture at 3700 Osuna NE. Part store, part sewing school and part workshop, Just Cos targets the do-it-yourselfers ready to design their own getups for the growing list of costume-friendly events in the vein of Comic Con.

“Nothing like this (place) exists and I honestly don’t know why,” Miller says from the work table in Just Cos’ back room. “The community here is large enough that there should be something like this.”

Miller found herself in the thick of the local “cosplay” scene a few years ago. Her daughter told her she resembled Loki from “Thor” and “The Avengers.” An experienced seamstress – she was just 8 when her grandmother taught her to sew – she fashioned her own Loki costume and headed to Albuquerque Comic Con. Fellow convention-goers regaled her with compliments. Customers started commissioning Miller to make other elaborate outfits for specific events around New Mexico and beyond.

mb_jd_03aug_retail6“They’re not just regular costumes. They’re usually over-the-top,” she says. “People want to dress up as their favorite character and the characters often have costumes that either defy physics or are very complex.”

She stayed busy – almost too busy, since making each getup is often a long-term project. Ultimately, she figured, it might be easier showing people exactly how to produce their own.

She opened Just Cos this spring with a small selection of costume-making supplies, including Worbla, a versatile and forgiving thermoplastic used frequently to make “armor” or any number of props. Miller says customers must typically go online to buy it, but don’t usually like waiting to have it shipped, so she wanted to have an inventory always available. She also has a wall of Arda brand wigs in a range of colors from that-might-actually-occur-in-nature to cotton-candy pink and deep-sea turquoise.

But Just Cos also specializes in workshops, from basic sewing lessons to pattern-making classes and Worbla-specific courses.

For those who need even more guidance, Miller offers a “costume in a box” service. For a $20 fee, she will research a customer’s planned costume, and offer a list of required materials and estimations on its cost to make and complexity level.

“We want to help people build their costume from the ground up; we want to give them the resources and it’s not just supplies,” she says.

Just Cos is located on Osuna, west of Jefferson. Current store hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 433-4440.

How hungry are you?

You know how they say everything is bigger in Texas?

A local restaurateur has turned that old adage into a new enterprise.

Kris Hansen recently opened Texas Meltz in Northeast Albuquerque, building a menu around supersized sandwiches, significant salads and even hearty helpings of chocolate cake.

Hansen lived in Fort Worth for several years and his business partner used to call Houston home.

Brandon Ihlein, a cook at Texas Meltz, makes an Austin sandwich. The eatery cuts all its own meats daily to create its signature supersized sandwiches, which are fittingly named after cities in Texas. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

Brandon Ihlein, a cook at Texas Meltz, makes an Austin sandwich. The eatery cuts all its own meats daily to create its signature supersized sandwiches, which are fittingly named after cities in Texas. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

“We got so used to barbecue places and all that, and just wanted to do a sandwich shop,” he says.

Hansen – a U-Swirl franchisee who closed one of his two Duke City frozen yogurt shops to make way for Texas Meltz – is thinking big, too. He says he will soon start construction on a location in Reno, Nev., with plans to build two more in that market and three in Las Vegas, Nev. The ultimate goal is to franchise the concept.

“We really feel it’s going to be popular because of the size of the sandwiches, the quality of the food, the variety that’s available,” he says.

mb_jd_03aug_retail4Texas Meltz – which Hansen says cuts all its own meat daily – offers a series of hot (on Texas toast) and cold (on 6-inch hoagies) sandwiches named after Texas cities. Examples: the hot Houston (pulled pork, red onions and cheese) or the cold Tyler (turkey, ham, bacon, provolone and chipotle mayo). Sandwiches run about $7-9 apiece.

Salad choices include the fruit-laden “Orchard” and the meat-piled “Farm House.”

The shakes are a point of pride. The menu promises “even the small is BIG.” The 24-ounce “small” rings up at $3.95.

Texas Meltz is located at 8104 Wyoming NE, at Paseo del Norte and is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

The phone number is 797-1075.

40 years of relaxing Albuquerque

The Mauldin family has probably aided more Albuquerque naps than Thanksgiving dinner.

The owners of LA-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries of Albuquerque are this month commemorating their 40th anniversary selling the recliners in the Duke City.

The Mauldins got their start with a 7,000-square-foot shop in 1975, but soon outgrew the space, moving into a new home just three years later.

Today, the local LA-Z-Boy licensees sell out of two locations – in Northeast Albuquerque and near Cottonwood Mall – that total 34,000 square feet.

They’re not just selling recliners these days – the inventory has long since evolved to include a variety of furnishings, including dining and bedroom units. But Jeff Mauldin, president and owner, says the “Pinnacle” model electric recliner is his company’s best-selling piece.

The Albuquerque stores are located at 5004 San Mateo NE and 3750 Ellison NW.

And in other news …

• Have you noticed the demolition of the little tobacco shop near Sadie’s on Academy? The building recently came down to make way for a new T-Mobile store, according to the property’s developer-broker Jim Hakeem. He says the new store at 5350 Academy NE should be completed by November.

• Speaking of Jim Hakeem, he says he’s preparing to redevelop the vacant convenience store at 4th Street and Alameda, partly to accommodate a new Subway sandwich shop. Work should begin in the next few weeks.

• It looks like we have yet another new Starbucks brewing in Albuquerque. The coffee giant plans to build at 1000 Rio Grande NW (at Interstate 40), according to city planning documents. It will join a previously announced Burger King at the same site. By my count, this is the seventh Starbucks location in the works right now around the metro.

If you have retail news to share, contact me at jdyer@abqjournal.com or 823-3864. For more regular updates on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at abqjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.

 

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