Noelle Parent found the inspiration for her new wedding dress consignment shop, Blue Sage Bridal, after learning of a logistical problem that another nearby retailer had encountered.
Through her work as a wedding planner, Parent had become acquainted with Jennifer Haines, owner of wedding dress shop Urban Set Bride in Church Hill.
Haines told Parent that she consigns her shop’s sample dresses, but had to drive to Virginia Beach to find the nearest shop that offered such a service. Parent saw that as a gap in the local market.
“Virginia Beach was where the closest bridal consignment shop was. There aren’t really any in the Richmond area,” Parent said, noting that Bliss Bridal was a similar shop in Bon Air that closed last year.
Parent is now preparing to open Blue Sage at 20 E. Main St. in the former Richmond Lamp Co. building in Monroe Ward.
She leased the space in September, which was vacant and most recently garden and nursery shop The Living Room. For years prior it was home to the Richmond Lamp Co.
Blue Sage holds and sells dresses for clients, and takes a percentage of the sale. Parent said Blue Sage’s concept is just like a normal consignment shop, “just with a higher-end product,” she said.
Parent said she thinks the lack of bridal consignment shops in the area is due to people being generally apprehensive about the wedding industry, the gowns especially so.
“Wedding gowns are something that are totally foreign to people — most people only do it once in their lifetime, the sizing is different from anything else you wear, the way it’s ordered is different,” she said.
“You don’t just go into a bridal shop, buy a dress and go home with it. It takes four to six months most of the time. I can’t think of what else you’d purchase and wait six months to get it.”
She said Blue Sage is able to get its clients dresses faster and cheaper, and offer an avenue for brides to make some money back from their dresses.
“The new generations aren’t keeping their dresses the way their parents did. I think parents thought maybe their kids would want to wear their wedding dresses. Turns out no one wanted to wear those big poofy sleeves from the ’80s,” she said, laughing.
Blue Sage’s retail area is 800 square feet and has room to keep up to about 250 dresses. Parent said she currently has an inventory of about 110 dresses.
Parent’s other business, Gifted RVA, which sells gift boxes filled with local wares, also will use an 800-square-foot apartment in the building for storage starting in spring 2020.
Blue Sage is currently on a soft opening, with a full opening planned in mid-January. Gifted RVA also will use the space during the December holidays.