By Sarah Seeley
Jan. 27, 2014
When Samantha Gallant looked at the elegant yellow dress hanging in her closet, memories of her prom night flashed through her mind.
It had been an unforgettable night, but the dress was collecting dust in her closet and taking up space.
What should she do with it?
Three years ago, Tanya Craig, the Stratford Youth Can Do coordinator at the time, devised a solution for girls like Samantha. She created the Stratford Prom Dress Consignment Sale so girls could give their dresses a “second date.”
For years Craig listened to teenage girls complaining about the dresses taking up space in their closets without a way to get rid of them.
They avoided online auction sites like Kijiji because many girls didn’t like to buy used dresses online. The girls found it awkward to try on dresses at a stranger’s house.
Craig proposed to have a sale where girls could drop off their dresses and sell them. She also wanted girls to have a place to buy their dresses at a reasonable price.
“We wanted to be a one-stop shop for dresses in a retail setting.”
The first year, about 80 dresses were dropped off and half of them sold, Craig said.
“We were really quite stunned.”
Christy Konschuh, the Stratford Youth Can Do (YCD) coordinator now, continued Craig’s vision. Members of the YCD helped Konschuh advertise the event and run the sale Jan. 24-25.
“I work with incredible youth and they do a lot.”
Christine’s Closet, a used clothing boutique, sent their employees to volunteer at the event. Christine McTaque, the owner of the boutique, said Konschuh was one of her customers. She invited McTaque to help with the sale.
McTaque said she and her employees helped girls in the fitting rooms and organized the racks of dresses with the youth volunteers.
“The kids for Youth Can Do were excellent.”
Konschuh said the sale is a great place for girls to buy their dresses because it’s cheaper than store-bought gowns.
“Girls spend a lot of money on a dress they use for three hours.”
Konschuh contacted local service providers to sponsor the event. Christine’s Closet contributed shoes, jewelry, and handbags to the sale. Local spas and hair salons gave samples of their products for a gift basket raffle. Stratford lent several rooms in the town hall for the sale.
Next, Konschuh dropped off posters advertising the sale at local businesses and sent press releases to the newspapers and the Stratford’s newsletter. She also used social media to spread the word.
“We wanted to make this the hub of all things grad.”
Girls dropped off their dresses to the town hall on Jan. 23. Girls often reminisce about their prom nights when they drop off their dresses, Konschuh said.
“When people bring their dresses, they also bring the stories of their dresses.”
One of the dresses was an old wedding gown from the 1970s and several of the dresses were from former bridesmaids.
The donors determine the prices for their dresses and they receive 80 per cent of the money when the gown is sold. The rest goes to the Youth Can Do to fund its programs.
Unsold dresses are returned to their owners.
This year, they only sold half as many dresses as they did in previous years. The big expensive ball gowns are going out of style and girls prefer the short dresses, Craig said. The girls re-use them as party dresses after prom and they are easier to store.
“It’s hit or miss to know what people want.”
They will hold the sale next year, but they will make some improvements. Craig hopes to catalogue the dresses online before next year’s sale.
Konschuh said she wants to hold another sale in May before prom and she hopes to include tuxedos and men’s formal wear.