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From prom to wedding

Life cycles at White Arbor Bridal

by Billie Ochberg

From the October, 2012 issue

Diana Holding's eyes well up when she talks about her daughters growing up and going off to college. "It was really hard letting go," she said, smiling through tears on a recent cloudy morning as contractors finished up the electrical wiring inside her new bridal shop, White Arbor Bridal & Formals, in Saline's State Street Crossing shopping center in front of Walmart.

One daughter is a junior at Grand Valley and the other is a sophomore at Bowling Green. While their younger brother is still at Saline High, Holding knows herself well and so does her husband, Brent, a pilot for US Airways. With their empty nest looming, Brent encouraged her to start something that's all her own.

Holding has always worked outside the home, starting off as a flight attendant and, over ten years, working her way up to management. But that job required too much traveling, so she switched to real estate and enjoyed it for a number of years--"I even did okay through the recent economic downturn," she says. But that industry had its own frustrations, so when her husband encouraged her to find something new, she recalled a cherished friend from Pennsylvania, where she used to live, who happily owned a bridal boutique.

Holding joined online forums about the bridal industry, read blogs, and even made cold calls to bridal boutiques across the country. "What do you do?" she'd ask other business owners, "Where do you get the dresses?" One especially helpful owner in Minnesota even invited her and a friend, Tracey Skidmore, to come there and learn more about the bridal business. A client of Holding's back when she sold real estate, Skidmore will manage the boutique, which in August was targeting a September 10 opening date.

With two suites, there's ample room for showcasing an array of designer bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and a smattering of flower girl dresses. She'll also sell homecoming and prom dresses and formal wear, especially around the winter

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holidays. She'll sell veils, hairpieces, and jewelry. "But I won't be doing mother-of-the-bride dresses," she says. Evidently that requires another whole line of inventory and a tremendous investment, and Holding wants to focus more on the bride for now.

The walls are painted in a flattering soft purple called "wood violet" with accents in "heavenly white." Light pours through the double store windows. The floors will be carpeted in a black, white, and gray speckled pattern. The bridal side of the shop will feature a pedestal area for fitting with seating for viewing. Three huge dressing rooms allow plenty of room for trying on those Cinderella, Lady Diana style gowns. Local seamstress Priscilla Johnson will come twice weekly for fittings and alterations and Holding has invited local hair stylist Susan Jarvela, of Saline's 199th Avenue Salon, to come in and help customers with their hair--"That's important so brides-to-be can see how different hairstyles look with different bridal gowns," Holding says. She'll sell made-to-order designer gowns by Allure, Venus, the Ella collection from Essence of Australia, and the Kathy Ireland collection from Mon Cheri, ranging in price from $550 to $1800. She'll also stock some off-the-rack gowns in the $300 to $800 price range. Holding already has about 100 dresses for homecoming. "Expect lots of bling for this season's homecoming dresses," she says.

White Arbor Bridal & Formals, 6877 State Rd., suites B & C. 470-6805. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. Noon-5 p.m.


After weeks of speculation, Country Market closed earlier this summer, leaving behind the smattering of shops still open for business in the Sauk Trail shopping center looking like they've been abandoned at sea.

Byong Kwon, owner of Biwako Sushi, says that so far, business has been okay despite the closing--but "I sure hope the rumors are true and that something else like another grocery store goes into that space." Martin Ball, the manager of Mancino's, on the opposite side of the empty Country Market, says his sales dropped a bit, but "that could have been a normal summertime drop. It's picked up some" since. Next door, at the GNC Wellness store, owner Patty Palombit said business is fine. She too has heard rumors about another grocery store moving in but nothing concrete.

Both Ball and Palombit wonder if the landlord, Nadim "Ned" Hakim of Investico Development Corporation, has declared bankruptcy. An online search found no sign of that, but in August, calls to Hakim at Investico were met only with a voicemail requesting callers to leave a message, immediately followed by another recording that said, "Sorry, you cannot leave a message now because this user's mailbox is full." It's been full for weeks. One of the property's CBRE leasing agents, who preferred not to be named, said only, "We're looking at prospects to fill the space."    (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2012.]


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