Take a gander at these geese outfits created by a Windsor woman

·4 min read
Jewel Sherman says she's made too many geese outfits to count. She doesn't know exactly where the trend started, but enjoys getting creative and selling the clothing to others.  (Submitted by Jewel Sherman - image credit)
Jewel Sherman says she's made too many geese outfits to count. She doesn't know exactly where the trend started, but enjoys getting creative and selling the clothing to others. (Submitted by Jewel Sherman - image credit)

You name it and Jewel Sherman has a goose outfit for it.

In the last 22 years, Sherman has made "thousands" of specialty outfits for cement and plastic lawn geese — from bumblebees to hockey players, flamingos, an ear of corn and even a Mountie.

"I like to dress up the geese," said Sherman, who lives in Windsor, Ont. "I mean, they're cute and to see people's faces, to see some of the kids' faces when they have them. I've got people that still send me, 'Oh look at my goose, I've got your costume on.' It's just something joyful."

In the last year, she's noticed more people are interested in buying the geese and dressing them up — a small way she believes people are fighting off the COVID-19 blues.

People are decorating their yards up for the grandkids to make them a little happier, the holidays, just to make people cheer up. - Jewel Sherman, creator of goose outfits

"Oh my gosh, it's taken off big time. People are decorating their yards up for the grandkids to make them a little happier, the holidays, just to make people cheer up," she said.

Growing up in Shipsewana, Ind., Sherman said, she first saw the geese around and decided to get her own.

She's not exactly sure where the trend began, but believes it may have been in the midwestern United States, and thinks it was sparked by the Don Featherstone flamingos.

Sherman says this is her spring goose, an outfit she doesn't plan to sell as it's a favourite of hers.
Sherman says this is her spring goose, an outfit she doesn't plan to sell as it's a favourite of hers. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

After her husband died in 1999, she said, making the cement geese and designing their outfits was a way for her to make some money. Ever since, she's been hooked on creating every look imaginable.

"It takes longer to figure out the material match up and the stuff for it than it does for me to go to the store and pick out an outfit," she said. "People stop and look at your goose clothes when they're out."

Her most expensive outfit sold for $75.

"I have people that come here directly and they don't care what price you put on them — they want it," she said, adding she's shipped clothing to the United States, Africa and Ireland.

Just some more of Sherman's geese gear.
Just some more of Sherman's geese gear. (Submitted by Jewel Sherman)

Sherman, who moved to Windsor in 2004, used to own the shop Krafty Treasures on Ottawa Street where she sold outfits and had a mould to make the geese.

Her hand-made outfits have also made their way around town, with requests from local businesses such as The Loose Goose and Per Bacco Ristorante.

Goose outfit for different occasions

Tecumseh resident Colleen MacInnes has had her lawn goose for more than 20 years. She bought it to decorate her home and believes it was a "fad" at the time.

A few years ago, said MacInnes, she found a note telling her the goose was naked.

"Somebody said, 'Oh I noticed your goose doesn't have any clothes on. You can call me. I have all different outfits,'" she said with a laugh.

Sherman said she wasn't the one who left the note, but knows there are others in the area who are into the craft.

This is the goose Sherman made for Per Bacco Ristorante, a restaurant that used to be on Windsor's Ottawa Street.
This is the goose Sherman made for Per Bacco Ristorante, a restaurant that used to be on Windsor's Ottawa Street.(Submitted by Jewel Sherman)

MacInnes said she often dresses up the nearly three-foot-tall goose for Christmas and St. Patrick's Day, occasionally paying between $50 and $60 for the clothes.

"It was fun to decorate it for different occasions. It's like a little kid, I guess."

Though Sherman no longer has her storefront, she now sews and stitches together the outfits from her home.

"It's totally covered in fabric along all the walls, I have filing cabinets full of their little hats, their cups, their bows, their stakes, whatever. I mean my whole upstairs is just covered in this crap," she said.

"I run through a lot of sewing machines — a lot — because you're beating them to death."

Helping Sherman out behind the scenes is her husband, Craig.

"I fix them, I repaint the geese, I'm the maintenance man here."

The costume she thinks best suits Windsor? A Spitfires she once made, after the city's junior hockey team.

Sherman fixes the hat on the leprechaun-St. Patrick's Day-themed goose.
Sherman fixes the hat on the leprechaun-St. Patrick's Day-themed goose. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)