Grace Quick has never run a business or worn a wedding dress before, but in October she opened a bridal boutique in Longview.
The mother of six had a courthouse wedding and says she never wore dresses until she was in her 30s. But when she saw that Viva La Diva bridal shop at 1315 Hemlock Street was closing, she decided to buy the space to open a boutique. It’s called Grace’s Bridal Boutique.
“I’m hoping before (customers) go to Portland or Seattle, they will check me out because I’m sure they’ll find something they want here,” said Quick, a Kelso resident.
When Quick, 45, bought the space in July she also had to buy the inventory of 130 wedding dresses. Her plan was to sell off the dresses and then switch the store to selling shoes and handbags, but Quick said she developed a knack for matching brides with their perfect dress. She now has more than 500 dresses in her small Longview store and is trying to get rid of the other items.
Dress prices range between $300 and $600, but she also offers a collection of designer dresses that cap out at $800. Quick said she is able to charge so little because she has a buyer in California who purchases the floor model dresses at discounted prices.
“I can get them in so many sizes so (customers) can get the designer dress of their dream at an affordable price,” she said.
To get the boutique running, Quick said she is taking a year off from teaching special education in the Kelso School District, where she has worked since 2009. The new business has been a large investment for her family, but Quick says it was worth it.
“You have to be able to take some risks if you want to succeed,” she said. “I told my husband if it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work and it’s not for me. But I’m willing to give it a try.”
Quick says she frequently refers her customers to local florists, photographers and caterers for the rest of their wedding preparations to help support Longview and Kelso businesses.
“It’s good for our town,” she said. “This town has so much potential. It’s a beautiful town, and I think if everybody is willing to help each other, it would be great.”
Grace’s Bridal Boutique also has flowergirl dresses, veils, garters and shoes because Quick says she wants her store to be a one-stop-shop for brides. She also has a small collection of prom and winter ball dresses for school dances.
This month, Quick plans to start a monthly raffle to give away a dress for free to those who are low-income, veterans or who have special needs. Family members or friends can suggest people whom they think would benefit from a free dress. Quick said the raffle is a way for her to help those struggling in her community.
“Everybody deserves to feel beautiful and special on their wedding day.”