Business Spotlight - Despite catastrophe, bridal shop open

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Holly Purman, owner of Holly’s Bridal Boutique, Elkader, is pictured in the temporary space she’s occupying while her shop is being renovated.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

The old entertainment adage that “the show must go on” applies to weddings as well. If you’re Northeast Iowa’s premiere bridal shop, you can’t close your doors when catastrophe strikes. Brides still depend on you.

When Holly Purman, owner of Holly’s Bridal Boutique, Elkader, learned that a burst water pipe from an upstairs apartment had heavily damaged her lower-level store, she knew she’d have to relocate temporarily to a new space. Closing shop for 90 days—the projected time for cleanup and renovation—just wasn’t an option.

“My customers are still getting married and it’s my obligation to stay up and running to fulfill their needs,” Purman said. “They count on me, and I don’t want to let anyone down. A little water wasn’t going to stop us. . .I never want to be the reason that a bride’s special day wasn’t all they hoped it would be.”

Purman was fortunate to find a storefront just a bit more than a block from her shop. It’s a shared space with Garments and Goods, in the former NAPA Auto Parts store on the corner of Main and Mulberry Streets. Beth Rentschler, owner of Elkader Carpet and Design Center, owns that building, as well. She and her daughter, Stacy, were instrumental in helping Purman with her transition.

“I had another option but I wanted it to be easy for my customers to find me,” Purman said. “I didn’t want to inconvenience them any further.”

Purman credits Rentschler and her daughter, Stacey, as well as numerous family and friends with getting her up and running in record time.

“Beth and Stacey went above and beyond to get me in here and provide me with furniture, mirrors and anything else I needed,” Purnam said. “We had great friends and family who helped. . .even business owners and people just out running errands jumped in the day we were moving to carry things and help us get situated.”

Holly’s Bridal Boutique has been part of the Elkader retail scene since 2004. Purnam said a case of the “Monday blues” got her and he husband, Peter, thinking about alternatives to the factory work and another employment options. They tossed around the idea of owning and running a small business.

“We knew it had to be something special to bring people here and we didn’t want to compete with what Elkader already had to offer,” recalled Purnam. “I was listing off all of the things I like and my husband said, ‘You need to open a bridal store.’”

It would be a few more years before Purman followed up on her husband’s suggestion. She had a great job at Land’s End with great benefits that didn’t feel she could walk away from.

“When they told us the plant was closing, the planning began!” she said. 

The store, which also does a brisk trade in prom dresses, was an immediate hit. One reason for its success is Purnam’s impeccable taste and her ability to meet both the style needs for her customers, whether trendy or traditional. 

Purnam hopes to be back in her original shop by around Valentines Day. She’s anxious for customers to see the completely renovated space and all of the new stock, including this season’s jewel tones and two-piece ensembles for prom-goers and blush gowns for brides.

“We have exposed the original brick wall and have a new layout for the dressing rooms,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of the work ourselves as a family so we take a lot of pride in that.”

Editor’s note: If there’s a wedding in your future, be sure to check out our 2016 Bridal Guide, which is included in this week’s Trader.

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