by RODNEY MARGISON
Tucked away behind two sets of steel doors in the back of My Sister’s Closet hides a treasure trove in what used to be a car detailing shop. More than 200 wedding dresses in plastic garment bags hang from clothes racks, many with the manufacturers’ labels still attached. And all are available at bargain prices.
The wedding boutique at My Sister’s Closet—a nonprofit, secondhand women’s apparel shop at 414 S. College— came about organically when the COVID-19 pandemic made it unsafe for couples to have the weddings they had planned.
“We’ve always had a certain degree of formal wear that we put out in the spring, but we never really put out much bridal because we didn’t have any room on the floor,” says Sandy Keller, the organization’s founder and executive director. “As soon as it became known that we were accepting wedding gowns with this new space, the donations just miraculously started pouring in.”
And the dresses are remarkable, Keller says. Many of them are made from French silks, Italian lace, or Swarovski crystals, with original price tags of “well over $2,000.” Your cost: $45 to around $1,100.
Donations of gowns came from a variety of sources, including vendors whose 2020 designs didn’t sell because of the pandemic. “If you want to put 2021 stock on the floor, you have to make room for it, so people donated it,” Kellar says. One person closed her bridal show at the convention center, drove to My Sister’s Closet, and donated 75 new dresses.
And though in-kind donations are up, monetary donations aren’t—a situation Kellar says she’s hoping to reverse. “During the pandemic, all fundraisers ceased to exist, so we’re hoping that we can do something and get people on board,” she says.
“Hopefully, with all these gowns, we’re not only able to pay the rent, but we’re able to help be part of some people’s really great life stories,” Keller adds.