Love It Forward

A new consignment business is sending wedding dresses down the aisle—again

Photo: Karen James

BRIDES OFTEN INVEST a tidy sum in a dress that will only be worn once—and so do bridesmaids and mothers-of-the-bride or groom.

“People spend a lot of money, and then have them sitting in their closets,” says Karen James.
Larger cities have long had consignment shops geared specifically to the bridal industry, but up until last fall, London did not. That’s when James opened her new store, I Do Consignment, in Hyde Park.

“I’m a consignment shopper myself,” says James. “I love the thrill of the hunt, and I like the idea of recycling and being kind to the environment.”

“We have dresses from size two to 24, ranging in price from $200 to $2,000. They have all been consigned with love, with many good memories attached” —Karen James

The store carries a large selection of wedding dresses on consignment, most less than five years old and some brand new. James already has her eye on one of the dresses for her own upcoming wedding this summer.

“We have dresses from size two to 24, ranging in price from $200 to $2,000,” she says. “They have all been consigned with love, with many good memories attached.”

There are also shoes and clutches, tiaras, veils and belts, plus dresses for the bridal party and family.

The shop’s focus goes beyond weddings to ­formal wear for all special occasions. In November and December, the store was busy with people looking for that special outfit for Christmas and New Year’s parties. And lately, the store has been full of shoppers looking for grade-eight graduation and prom dresses.

One unique benefit for customers is an in-house seamstress who can do alterations. “It’s very convenient for people, and Marcie is very good,” James notes. “She used to be a seamstress for a bridal store, but now works independently.”

James will provide input into pricing, but ultimately the decision is up to the person who is selling. “Shoppers can expect to save up to 50 per cent,” says James. The consignor receives 60 per cent of the selling price for bridal dresses and 40 per cent for all other formal wear.

James, who still works a day job, opened the store last fall in order to test the market and ­fine-tune the business in preparation for retiring from her career next year. Most days after work she heads to the store, which is open ­evenings Tuesday to Friday, and daytime on the weekend. “I’m a very social person and my day job is mainly paperwork, so I’m really enjoying this,” she says. “Every piece comes with its own story, and I get to hear them all.”

For now, she is promoting the store via Facebook, Instagram and word-of-mouth. She also had a booth at a bridal show in January, which generated quite a few calls and drop-ins. The 500-square-foot store has visible signage facing Hyde Park Road and James also puts out a sandwich board and uses window displays to attract drive-by business.

It seems to be working, she says. “Business is steadily picking up, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.”  Kym Wolfe