Love is in the air as couple says ‘yes’ to moving bridal boutique to BG
BY DAVID DUPONT
Love is all around in the Dress for A Day Bridal Boutique at 100 S. Main St., at the Four Corners in Bowling Green.
The racks are full of dresses – more than 1,000 – for a bride’s big day.
Up on the wall above the cash register, the owners, Rachelle Spencer and Martin Huffstutler, smile down from a photo.
“That’s our engagement photo,” explains Huffstutler. Taken in 2015. They married the next year.
Their new relationship came at a time of career change for both of them. She’s a registered nurse and he’s a retired sea captain who worked in the oil transport business.
Now together they run Dress for A Day, located in the former home of Blush Bridal Boutique.
The business started in Centerville, just south of Dayton. They came to Bowling Green to talk to Leeann Liebetreu about buying her inventory as she wound down operations at Blush.
They reached a deal, and then went to lunch.
“We fell in love with the shop, the location and with all her beautiful merchandise,” Huffstutler said.
They talked to the landlord, and then decided to buy the entire business.
In January, they moved themselves to a house on North Prospect, and moved their inventory from their Centerville shop.
“We’re really happy to be here,” Huffstutler said.
The move was “kind of sweet sorrow,” though. The Centerville shop had just been voted the top bridal shop in Dayton. But the landlord was ready to sell the building, and they weren’t ready to buy it, Huffstutler said.
Their large selection comes from purchasing the merchandise of other shops that are liquidating.
“Our niche is that when a bride comes in here, she can buy a new wedding dress and take it home that day,” he said.
They also carry dresses for maids of honor, the mother of the bride, flower girls, as well as dresses for special occasions including First Communion and prom. Sizes range from 2 to 30.
The shop has a selection of shoes and other accessories.
The shop is still a work in progress with the front section and changing room ready for business, as the rear sections take shape.
Classical music and pleasing scents from lavender and candles will welcome the customer.
Huffstutler envisions mannequins in all the windows.
The couple came to the business through wedding photography. Both had an interest in photography, and they went to a wedding where they felt the photographer did an inadequate job.
They acquired their first wedding dresses to use in style shoots, Spencer said. They started renting those dresses out.
And that “led to this,” she said. They do not rent dresses now, the couple said.
“We didn’t start out with the idea of starting a wedding shop,” Spencer said.
She had worked as a register nurse for 25 years, and is still licensed, though the business takes up all of her time now.
“I worked on the ocean for 30 years,” Huffstutler said. “It was just a time for the change.”
He lived in Louisiana until the company he worked for decided he was making too much money. He moved to North Carolina, and then to Ohio to be with Spencer. They met through eharmony.
“I really believe God has led us on a great journey,” Huffstutler said. “It’s been an evolution. We’ve had opportunities with our bridal shop that we never would have seen.”
There’s the bride who has tears of joy seeing herself in her gown, saying: “I never thought I’d be so beautiful.” Her mother started crying and Spencer and Huffstutler started crying.
“Those are the moments that really lock you in. When you know you’re on the right track of what you should be doing,” he said.
“That’s the part I enjoy the most in the business, the joy you bring people.”
He recalled their first year in business when they were visited by a man who said he had a friend in hospice. She was 26. She knew, the friend said, that she would never get married, but she always wanted to wear a wedding dress.
Spencer and Huffstutler brought three dresses for her to consider. She selected one, which they gave her.
The woman’s health improved enough that she was able to host “a living funeral,” Huffstutler said. “She wanted to say goodbye to her friends while she was living. She came out wearing our wedding dress. It was such a beautiful moment, such a great opportunity. Sometimes we wonder — why do we get to share this experience?”
Another time a bride came in crying. Another bridal shop had ruined the dress she’d selected. Here you can wear this one, they told her.
The wedding was in 10 days.
Huffstutler said he told her: “I’m going to help you find a wedding dress today. But I don’t want you to just settle for a dress, I want you to find a dress you love. … We found a wedding dress for her.”
More tears of joy. She invited Spencer and Huffstutler to her wedding.
Spencer said they enjoy playing a role in such an important part of a person’s life. “It’s something somebody’s been looking forward to for a long time. … It’s gratifying to help them find something that makes them happy.”