On Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso sits a most colorful shop. The window displays are lovely dresses ranging from timeless elegant bridal gowns to the more edgy cocktail dresses. Behind those dresses lies a shop filled with lace, tulle, silk, satin, frills, flora, fauna, and sparkle aplenty. It’s basically a girly girl’s utopia. Welcome, dear friends, to Catherine’s Bridal Boutique.
Cathy Brown has been the owner for about seven years. Before she gained ownership the store had been in business for around 40 years already. For the past three years the boutique has been in Valparaiso, before which it resided in Hobart.
“We sell anything that you need to wear for a special occasion,” Brown said. “Particularly weddings. Bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, flower girls dresses, we rent tuxedos, and mother-of-the-bride pieces. We also have things for other special occasions like proms and homecoming dances. And we carry accessories so you can buy your shoes here, jewelry, headpieces, as well as some undergarments.”
A business that has stayed open for that length of time, especially in these tough economic times must have something extra special about it. Here’s how Brown and her staff make things work.
“A lot of talking about our store and making people happy. When you make people happy they tell their friends," Brown said. "Ninety percent of the people I see are because they knew someone who has been here before. It’s a huge deal to us to make people happy. There a lot of choices in this industry and a lot of misconceptions so it’s important for people to hear from those that, ‘Yes, you can go to this place and have a good experience’.”
An experience in Catherine’s Bridal Boutique is fun and down-to-earth. The Lady Lifers can vouch for that because we recently got the privilege of trying on some beautiful prom dresses that are sold at the boutique. Read that story by clicking here. A typical day is booked with appointments. When a person arrives for their appointment, a staff member is assigned to him or her to help them pick out and try things on. There is a full-time seamstress that does alterations so there is a lot of those types of appointments, too.
“We don’t limit how many things that someone can try on. And it’s not just about dresses," Brown said. “We really like to get to know the people that come in here because it helps us help them. The more we understand, the more we can help. There’s a lot of laughing, crying and giggling. It’s a lot of fun.”
Brown goes on to say that her favorite part of being the owner of Catherine’s Bridal Boutique is the shopping experience. She likes to watch the transformation as clients go through the dresses and come to realize what they are looking for and find that perfect gown. She also really enjoys the business and marketing aspect of being a business owner. Brown thinks of it as an interesting challenge. She takes it all on with a smile on her face. And a positive attitude is something that she feels makes the boutique stand out over others.
“We’re very nice here. When you walk in the door you’re not going to be confronted by someone who doesn’t want to be here. I only allow people to work here that want to be here,” Brown stated. “It’s a great job. This is fun. So when you walk in you will find someone who knows what they’re doing and who wants to be here. We really respect the fact that when someone comes in here it’s because of a milestone that they are coming to. Whether it’s a wedding or a prom. Either way you’re about to make a memory. We want to make as easy and positive and special as we can.”
Recently Catherine’s Bridal Boutique won a Facebook contest that we at ValpoLife created. It was for what small business should be featured in our next monthly newsletter. The response was overwhelming and the boutique received the most votes! Click here to sign up for our newsletter!
So the next time you are in need of a dress for a special occasion head to Catherine’s Bridal Boutique. And take advantage of their rewards program. When you buy something from the store you earn 5%-10% of that purchase price back on a gift card toward your next new purchase. The gift cards never expire and you can give them to a friend! For more information on the rewards program and everything else about Catherine' Bridal Boutique visit the official website, call them at 219-462-7433, find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@catherinesbride).