By Ryan Wynne
Gown & Glove Bridal Consignment
Owners: Stephanie Murillo and Sue Lunsford
Start date: mid December
Address: 1211 Cornwall Ave.
Square feet: 3,900
Phone: (360) 922-0019
In her wedding photos, Stephanie Murillo wears a smooth, flowing, white dress, a dress she and her mother, Sue Lunsford picked out together.
While both women said the dress was perfect for Murillo, they stumbled upon it by accident. The two walked into a store and were browsing before realizing they had inadvertently walked into a bridal consignment shop.
Murillo didn’t mind the mistake — the store had beautiful dresses that looked new, she said. Lunsford felt differently.
“As a mom, my first thought was, ‘Oh, I’m not going to have my daughter wear a consigned dress for her wedding,’” Lunsford said.
But Lunsford’s apprehension disappeared when she saw her daughter in a dress that looked new.
Now Lunsford and Murillo are trying to convince others that bridal consignment isn’t so bad, and in fact, is pretty great. In mid-December, the mother-daughter team opened Gown & Glove Bridal Consignment in a 3,900-square-foot space at 1211 Cornwall Ave., near India Grill.
Like the store that pulled them off the beaten, new-gown path, Lunsford and Murillo’s shop will likely catch the eyes of those looking for new dresses. That’s in part because 75 percent of their 100-dress inventory is new, and those that aren’t, well, who could tell?
“Nobody knows. You can keep it a secret if you want,” Lunsford said.
The store is clean and well organized. Dresses hang in fluffy, mostly white rows throughout the main floor, and everything looks new. Unlike most consigned items, wedding dresses are usually only worn once, not for a couple of years, Lunsford said. And sometimes only for a couple of hours, Murillo said.
Gown & Glove also carries new veils by nationally-renowned and locally-located Jenniffer Leigh. Those veils line a wall of one of the rooms, which is separated from the rest of the store by a wall of windows. In the room is a step that leads up to a platform, which looks like a stage, and the wall it adjoins is covered by a large mirror.
“We want a bride to feel special,” Lunsford said. “That’s why we call this the Cinderella Room.”
Customers can get designer dresses for half the price, Lunsford said, and some customers buy consigned dresses for a different, more environmentally-friendly reason.
“Bellingham is very reuse, reduce, recycle conscious,” Lunsford said.
It’s a good market for consignment, Lunsford said, and compared with other Whatcom County cities, Bellingham also gets a lot of outside traffic from Skagit County and British Columbia.
Murillo said they are already getting calls from people in nearby counties who want to sell their dresses at Gown & Glove.
Some folks who turn in dresses have brand new dresses and sad stories about cancelled weddings, while others see the sale as a good financial opportunity. With the economy, some people see their dresses as money just hanging in the closet, Murillo said — those who consign dresses get half of sale prices.
Gown & Glove currently carries wedding dresses ranging in price from $225 to $1,200, plus vintage dresses starting at $100. They also carry bridesmaid, mother of the bride, flower girl, prom, and special occasion dresses, not to mention jewelry, handbags, shoes and decor items.
So far, business is going pretty well, Murillo said.
December is the No. 1 month for engagements, Lunsford said. And January marks the beginning of wedding planning, Murillo said.
That increase in “I wills” translates into more business for those in the industry. And when the “I dos” are over, Murillo and Lunsford may see their dresses returned for another bride to stumble upon.