WINCHESTER — Literally and figuratively, they strive to put brides (and grooms) on a pedestal at Bridals by Al-Mor in Winchester.
Part of ongoing improvements at the expanding shop, the boutique now sports five of the raised platforms, each stationed in front of a large mirror, where brides-to-be (and friends) step up for a slightly elevated look at themselves while sampling dresses from the large selection stocked at the 494 Main Street East location.
Four of the new viewing areas were recently installed in a revamped fitting lounge upstairs at the spacious shop owned by Kim Carruthers since 2006. “So we’ve added more space, for brides, another room to ‘say yes to the dress,’” says the proprietor.
And there’s much to say ‘yes’ to in a place where the client is similarly elevated through top-notch service and customer care.
Carruthers compares the shop’s “friendly, relaxed personable service” to “coming home.”
She says, “That sounds a little bit repetitive, but that’s exactly what it is. We hug them when they walk out, we hug them when they come in. You really get to know everyone.”
By appointment, “we stay open late, privately, for the guys, to do their fittings and stuff like that, which is nice,” she points out, also highlighting the store’s extended hours on Thursday nights as well as by-appointment Sunday bookings.
“You definitely can’t get that in the city, where they’ll close down the store for you,” remarks Carruthers. “We’ve got that one-on-one service.”
Bridals by Al-Mor offers rental tuxedos from Collins Formal Wear — “We’re very, very pleased with them,” she says — and many, many different wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and, of course, dresses aimed at the mother and grandmother of the bride. The owner is also looking to set up a flower girls’ haven in one recently freed-up area.
“Apparently, we have a huge selection compared to other stores. That’s what people tell us,” she says.
Clients come from all over, drawn to Winchester from places like Alexandria and Ottawa.
On the trends of the day, she observes, “Lace is big, and cathedral trains are coming back.
A lot of people still like the big, poofy princess dresses. Belts are still strong, and headpieces.”
That new upstairs lounge is the perfect spot for a prospective bride and her pals to dig into the inventory — typically during those winter Saturdays when the place is busiest. Going forward, Carruthers also plans to decorate the lounge wall with a photo of each bride outfitted at Bridals by Al-Mor.
That new tradition should be well established when the owner turns the reins over to her two daughters — Miranda and Lexy — in a few short years. They’re already involved, with Miranda currently splitting her time between Winchester and another fashion retailer, while Lexy heads to college this fall to take cosmetology and pick up skills in demand at a busy bridal shop.
Their mother, meanwhile, says she will always be part of the scene. “I want to get a rocking chair and rock all the babies that come into the store,” says a smiling Carruthers.