I did not know Bethany McRee from Adam when she reached out about 3 years ago wanting to talk about moving her successful business downtown. I was excited but worried on her behalf, saying it was too early to rely on foot traffic for custom. She laughed and set me straight about her business, Engagements (formal name). Her comment: “No one gets married on impulse.” Pause. “OK, almost no one gets married on impulse. Searching for the dress involves appointments. And for the men, there is only one place to go to rent or buy a tuxedo.”
So we talked and schemed, and periodically tried to get serious about her renting all or part of one of my buildings. I learned what she could do with her excellent merchandising mind and how much she wanted opportunities for dramatic window displays. I also learned some funny things. For example, though she is the only source of wedding wear for women and for men in Grenada, she had a tuxedo problem and thought being near First & Green might help.
Hmm. Ok, what do we need to do? We need, says she, to create a tuxedo return box. A place tuxedos could be dropped after or during the reception, so her team could then collect them. Apparently, groomsmen quite understandably would party at the reception and then pack up and leave the next morning, often taking the tux with them, only remembering that it needed to be returned after they unpacked. Needless to say, the return rate once the tuxedos left town was pretty low. That left Bethany with a significant premium to pay for tuxedo loss. I love learning about the unexpected quirks of various businesses, and this was a great one.
Anyway, about the buildings. We kept talking and measuring and considering possibilities, but in the end she needed more building that I could afford to rent her at the price she could offer, and she her engineer husband preferred to buy a building then to pay the rent needed in one if the renovated buildings. The good news is that I had learned a great deal about Bethany’s vision and merchandising gifts during these discussions and in our joint productions called “Veils & Cocktails” held at First & Green.
Thinking I had major financing lined up, I had an option to purchase the grand old red brick Georgian style historic post office. I asked Bethany if she knew the building and the answer was no. So we made up a thin cover story to avoid scaring the seller, and she and her husband Michael went to see the Post Office as Prevail’s design team. The cover story lasted about 15 minutes as they fell in love with the dramatic high ceilings, the huge windows, and all the possibilities. The seller figured it out but quick, the McRees made an offer, and the rest is history.
The building has been transformed after months of renovation into a wonderful showcase for gorgeous gowns, and the men have their own space in which they do not have to wade through the girlie girls. The brides have private fitting rooms in which to try on the beautiful dresses and share the results with their entourages, while the Cotillion members and the prom ladies have their own dressing rooms as well. Bethany has plenty of storage for her inventory in the 7000 square foot bomb shelter in the basement. AND she is now offering yoga classes in the gorgeous space. Next step: installing the tuxedo return box in First & Green, around the corner.