Dress For a Day: From the Living Room to the Bridal Boutique
It look a leap of faith for the Dress For a Day Bridal Boutique to land in downtown Bowling Green, Ohio, at the corner of Wooster and Main. Their first year of operation in 2019 took place in Centerville, Ohio, a Dayton suburb. The second year brought on the pandemic. The third year began with moving the shop to northwest Ohio.
After losing their Centerville space when the landlord decided to sell the building, co-owners Martin Huffstutler and Rachelle Spencer traveled to Bowling Green in December 2020 to look at dress inventory on sale by the then-bridal shop owner. They left with lots of new wedding dresses and a new location.
“When we were sitting talking to her about inventory and found out she was selling the store, a light bulb went off,” Rachelle says. “We were looking for a new location and all the stars aligned. We purchased everything with a lump sum and merged the two bridal shops into one. It was a huge leap of faith.”
There was a day, not so long ago, when Martin and Rachelle — who met on eharmony in 2011 and married in 2016 — had a living room full of wedding dresses in Dayton. Some were on hangers, some were stacked on the floor, they were everywhere. They were teaming up as wedding photographers and began to rent and accumulate wedding dresses. The living room also included eight full-body mannequins they purchased at Elder-Beerman close-out sales.
“We had a huge living room and there were so many wedding dresses, you couldn’t hardly walk through,” Martin says, smiling. “We knew then it was time to commit to our bridal business.”
Venturing Into the Small Business World
While doing that, the duo put their long-time careers in the rear-view mirror. Martin had been a sea captain for an oil business traveling the world and was downsized in 2017 after 30 years with the same company. Rachelle was a nursing administrator for a managed health care company. Martin, the eternal optimist, decided to pursue photography more aggressively and began shooting weddings. That led to being invited to participate in styled wedding shoots and other things wedding related. Martin and Rachelle began to acquire wedding dresses for the styled shoots and photography fun.
Today, Dress For a Day in Bowling Green features 800 new wedding dresses and another 400 special occasion dresses in their 2,500-square-foot wedding shop. A line of striking mannequins model the latest dress styles from the store windows at Bowling Green’s busiest intersection. Dress For a Day’s wedding dresses are priced at 20% below retail because the store purchases many of its dresses at liquidation sales. The bridal boutique carries dresses from 10 different manufacturers and does not rent dresses. Special occasion accessories such as veils and wedding shoes and a large jewelry collection are also for sale.
“We like to think we have a wider selection than most bridal shops,” Martin says. “And no two dresses are the same in the store. They’re all different. The bride will definitely find her dress. With 1,200 different styles, there’s something for everyone.”
Rachelle, adds: “We don’t do any ordering. The dress you try on, you take home. There’s no waiting for the dress to arrive, wondering if it’s going to arrive on time.”
Martin says calls running Dress For a Day “a joyous job, because we’re bringing joy to people.”
And Martin Huffstutler and Rachelle Spencer are doing it together. Their framed engagement and wedding photos are prominently displayed at the front of the store.
“Customer service has always been the No. 1 priority to us,” says Martin, whose shop has more than 170 5-star Google reviews on the web. “This is important to brides. It’s not like you’re going out to buy a new car. You’ll buy multiple cars in your lifetime, but you’ll probably only buy one wedding dress.
“We want this to be a very special occasion. It means a lot to them and it means a lot to us.”
Dress For a Day earns Best of Dayton award
Dress For a Day was voted “Best Bridal Shop” by Dayton Magazine in its annual “Best of Dayton” awards in 2020. The bridal shop was located in the Dayton suburb of Centerville until early 2021, when it moved to Bowling Green. Dress For a Day co-owner Rachelle Spencer told the magazine that her bridal shop “offers a very friendly, warm and non-judgmental environment for brides to shop. It is our sincere desire to help every bride feel special and shop in a relaxed and low-pressure atmosphere. We want the bride to love her dress and feel confident about her decision.”