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Shop helping to cut cost of prom night

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A bridal shop owner is seeking donations of “gently used” prom gowns, which she plans to sell at a nominal price to those who want to avoid spending too much for the special high school event.

“Everyone is looking for ways to save a little money and spend less in this economy, and I wanted to be a part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem,” said Lisa Edenfield, owner of Formalities Bridal & Evening Wear, 1841 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

“We have already started to see girls looking at prom and pageant gowns,” she added. “The consensus is that girls and their parents do not want to spend $500 on a gown to be used for just the one night.”

The first donor gave three gorgeous gowns that cost in the range of $400-$500 each when they were new. Rhonda Daily, of Mill Creek, provided gowns worn by her daughter, Kerstin, 19, who is now in college.

Asked why she had brought the dresses in, she replied, “Because as a parent, it’s expensive to send your child to prom.”

Daily is an administrator for the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation in Wauchula. “Every mother wants her daughter to look like a princess at prom, every daughter wants to look like a princess at prom,” she said.

Edenfield plans to re-sell the clean, still-stylish gowns perhaps for as little as $25 to $150 each, compared to $150-$399 for new gowns, she said.

She wanted to launch the “Go Green for 2009 Prom Season” in January so she would have time to prepare for spring. In February, the hunt begins for prom gowns, and last year, several shoppers asked whether Edenfield stocked any used ones.

She did not, but this year she hopes to have a selection.

“In this time of tightening budgets and trying times, why not think green and recyle your daughter’s prom gown for someone else to use and enjoy?” she noted. “We hope this program will work for those wishing to give back or just clean out their closet.”

The store will offer a $50 gift certificate for each donation, to be used toward the purchase of any other gown in the shop. Or, people may donate on a consignment basis. If it is sold, the owner gets part of the proceeds; if it is not sold, the owner may either reclaim it or give it to Edenfield, who will try to give it away.

One mother who raised four daughters would have loved to have been able to donate gowns that needlessly gathered dust in her closets after her daughters grew up and left home.

“I must have had 15 or 20 prom dresses, homecoming and prom dresses,” said Anita Colby, of Palm-Aire, who was shopping Friday with one daughter for a wedding veil.

“They hung in the closet for 10 years because nobody wanted to get rid of prom dresses. I gave them to the Goodwill.”

Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7908.