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For thrifty, nifty brides

Published June 13, 2007


The dresses couldn't have come at a better time.

This spring, Goodwill Industries-Suncoast "took a hit in Tallahassee, " resulting in budget cuts in its programs for people with disabilities, said Michael Ann Harvey, the organization's director of brand marketing and media relations.

Then, three weeks ago, Goodwill learned that its donation specialist, who solicits businesses for overstocked merchandise, happened to get more than 130 like-new wedding gowns from CC's Boutique on Fourth Avenue N in St. Petersburg. Perfect.

This week, Goodwill Industries-Suncoast will host its first Wedding Gala, selling the gowns at drastically reduced prices. The event will take place at two locations in hopes of offsetting the budget cuts.

The sales start at 6 a.m. each day: on Thursday at the Tampa Goodwill Superstore, and on Friday at the St. Petersburg Goodwill store. Each store will have 65 dresses, sorted by size, and all of the gowns will be kept under wraps until the event starts. The Wedding Gala will last until 9 a.m., when the stores open for regular business.

The dresses retail for $300 to $3, 000, but at the Goodwill event they'll be priced from $90. Sizes range from 2 to 30, with the largest selection in the 8 to 14 size ranges.

Most of the gowns were samples at CC's and still have their tags. Those and other dresses judged to be in pristine condition will be marked at $350, but Harvey said "quite a few" gowns are priced at $90, $100 and $120. She said a few have been tried on more frequently than others and may have smudges but still would be a great value, even after they are dry-cleaned. Those will be priced at $50.

Shoppers will have the chance to score coveted labels like Badgley Mischka, Lazaro and Alvina Valenta. There's at least one Vera Wang in the mix, which is valued at between $1, 000 and $1, 200; at the sale it will go for $350.

"We are hoping that this is going to be Goodwill's version of the running of the brides, " Harvey said, referring to the annual melee at Filene's Basement stores. "If it goes the way we hope it goes, we're going to do this every year."

Brides-to-be also can snag a little something for their grooms. Sacino's Formalwear has donated 50 vests to each store that will be $5 each.

In addition to clothing, there will be a selection of brand-new wedding-related items including ring pillows, invitation kits, guest books and pearl-encrusted candle holders.

Nadalie Brattlof, owner of CC's Boutique, donates gowns to a different charity every year.

"Who would think to go to Goodwill and be able to pick up a designer gown?" Brattlof said. A bonus: Her generosity helps clear space at CC's for incoming bridal collections.

Talk about a win-win-win.

Fast Facts:

If you go

Wedding Gala starts at 6 a.m. Thursday at the Tampa store, 4102 W Hillsborough Ave., and 6 a.m. Friday at the St. Petersburg store, 10596 Gandy Blvd. For details, see Some tips:

- Arrive early and wear tight-fitting clothes so you won't have to wait for a dressing room.

- Bridal gowns run small, so shop a size or two up.

- Remove shoes when trying on gowns; go easy on makeup.

- There will be a two-gown limit per customer.

- Goodwill accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, checks and cash.

- Go both days. Each store will offer a unique set of dresses.

[Last modified June 12, 2007, 20:57:32]

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