What started a year ago with a request has evolved into a business venture that local entrepreneur Bridget O'Brien hopes will provide a second act for some previously considered one-hit wonders.
"A friend of mine asked me to help her find a store that would buy her already-worn wedding dress," said O'Brien, owner of Return Engagement, an upscale bridal consignment boutique located in Elm Grove's Village Court. "I did some research and, to my surprise, couldn't locate any such place in greater Milwaukee."
After digging deeper, O'Brien, a wedding planner for over 20 years, concluded that there's likely a surplus of out-of-circulation, gently worn bridal gowns and wedding party dresses in southeastern Wisconsin; enough, perhaps, to support a niche consignment business.
In March, Bridget opened Return Engagement, employing her wedding-dress-selling friend, Judy Jakubek-Butz, and seamstress Sherry Christie, who works out of the shop as an independent contractor.
With consigned inventory that pays the donating party half of what the item sells for, the shop features secondhand, as well as new gowns from such name-brand designers as Vera Wang, Casablanca and Mori Lee, in sizes from 0 to 26.
"We currently have about 100 wedding dresses and 500 'better' dresses in stock that can be worn by bridesmaids, flower girls, mothers, as well as anyone attending any type of special occasion, be it a school function, party or cruise," said O'Brien, who also sells accessories, such as veils and jewelry. "Our dress prices range from $120 to nearly $5,500. Clients typically spend about 50 percent what they would have had they shopped at a traditional wedding gown boutique."
Educating potential customers on the cost-effectiveness of buying used gowns is a challenge, O'Brien admits, although one she believes can be overcome.
"Historically, there was a stigma attached to wearing used clothes, but I reassure our clients that it's okay to be thrifty shoppers," she said. "A bride-to-be can still look beautiful in one of our dresses and save some money at the same time."
For more information, visit www.returnengagementbridal.com.
JUST THE FACTS
Business name: Return Engagement
Address: 890 Elm Grove Road, Suite 107, Elm Grove, WI 53122
Owner: Bridget O'Brien
Type of business: Bridal and better dress consignment
Pearls of wisdom: Find someone to listen to
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Business Spotlight: Taking pictures is easier today, but taking good pictures is not, as Mike Crivel
- Business Spotlight: Elite Sport & Spine LLC
- Brookfield's O' What a Day Cafe strives to make any day a good day to stop in
- Skateland, jut beyond Brookfield, proves an enduring attraction for a fun night out
- Business spotlight: Brookfield dry cleaner emphasizes efficiency and economy for customers
- Business Spotlight Employees make Brookfield's Half Price Books work in a changing literary world
- Business Spotlight: Shoe Carnival's goal is to make shopping fun
- Brookfield Business Spotlight: Chiropractor takes a full-body wellness approach
- Brookfield business sells, buys 'gently used' children's goods
- Grasch's continues its family tradition of quality groceries
- Brookfield promotional business advocates useful items, not trinkets
- Company helps people, businesses save on energy
- Karate American encourages healthy body, mind
- Fazio's chocolate shop a second chance at happiness
- Local art gallery boasts diversified collection
- Ballet school helps students move with grace, confidence
- Enhancing Light Cosmetic Laser comes to Elm Grove
- Matt Schultz's search for a franchise was led by the heart
- Retirement just didn't pan out for Pro Cast's owner
- Halen Homes young, but making mark