The original store was started in 1990 as Modern Bride under a different owner. After a year, the original owner, not doing very well, sold the business to the Pedersons. The Pedersons took over the store on November 1st, 1991 (the day it was going to be closed) with two employees, about 20 wedding dresses, around 25 bridesmaids dresses, and some mother and flower girl dresses. We had 2,000 square feet out on Rt. 30E in the Oakley Park complex (which is across from Toyota.)
The entire first month sales were about what our store now does in an average hour of business. Still, the business grew rapidly after that first month. After a few years in business, we expanded for the first time to 3,000 square feet. The owner did most of the expansion construction himself.
By this time we had a better selection of gowns, though by no means extensive. Sometime in the mid nineties, Modern Bride became MB Bride as we were sued by Primedia, then the publishers of Modern Bride magazine. Since we had been contemplating a name change anyway, we felt that the time was a perfect to change our name.
And what does MB exactly stand for? We weren't quite sure ourselves at the time. It just seemed to work. But we have decided that it stands for "Most Beautiful." Through hard work and perseverance, our business grew rapidly, reaching the point where customers would come into our store on busy weekends, see the crowded conditions, and walk out.
We then started looking to move the entire store, hoping to double the square footage. While looking for a new and much larger location, we expanded the existing store by another 1,700 square feet. This new area was for alterations and alterations/storage area and to handle the crowds of customers coming from farther and farther away.
Even with the new space, we desperately needed to move. Finally, after several years of looking, we found our present building. Only it needed extensive renovation work, a parking lot, and a lot of thought and expertise in design. And it was about twice as large (15,600 square feet) as what we thought we really needed considering the largest store in the area was about 8-9,000 square feet.
Crossing our fingers and taking a much larger risk than we had ever imagined or had planned, we bought the property and completely renovated the building. The building previously housed a restaurant and bicycle shop on the first floor, a restaurant supply store (upstairs), and miniature golf course (where the main parking lot is now). Before that, the building was the well-known Greensburg Lumber store.
In late 2004 construction started and at that exact time a large wedding chain operation went out of business. Just as our business at our original location was basically out-of-control, we closed for three days and moved everything into our present location just before Christmas 2004.
This proved to be just in time. The first few months were rough because of unexpected amounts of new customers. We were understaffed. Doors jammed, the security system sort of worked, the phone system was inadequate and had to be completely replaced, and the computer system proved to be completely inadequate with all the new business. Add to that all the other problems of a new building (the air conditioning going on when the heater is supposed to) and you can imagine that it was quite a stressful time!
Eventually we got things smoothed out but a nice problem emerged. We were doing far more business than we had ever expected. Customers loved the new store often saying it was "like going to a store in New York City." So within months we had to add new gown storage space upstairs and doubled the number of computers.
In late 2006, we began construction on our Prom Store area and a massive new rack system for even more gown storage. We also added to our Alterations customer service area since we were running out of fitting room availability.
We have since more than doubled the business we were doing the first year in our present building! So in early 2012 we once again expanded the number of alterations fitting rooms, and added five more fitting areas in our mother's department. We also redesigned our alterations work area and added several industrial sewing machine stations. We have added new chandeliers and many new custom made benches and stools so customers have more places to sit. We now have nearly twenty computers running everything from shipping and receiving to ordering to accounting and sales.
Today, our upstairs Prom Store is bigger than our original store. So is the area that houses the bridesmaids and flower girl departments. So is our bridal department. So is our storage area. Even our Alterations department alone is pretty much the size of our original store. We have over 600 bridal gowns and over 1,300 bridesmaids gowns (versus 20-25 of each when we started). It is all quite amazing to us.
We are fortunate and very proud to be able to send our associates to the buying markets in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Amsterdam, London and Barcelona and other cities. Most end up going at some point. Not only do they get to meet designers personally, but they learn about fabrics, construction, and all the latest style trends. Several of our designers actually invite our associates to help them critique their lines! It is pretty exciting for our local ladies to be able to go to the big cities or Europe. In some cases it is their first plane flight. They come back much more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about our business.
While we look back and truly feel blessed, we also look forward to the future. We are always looking for ways to improve our business and have a number of initiatives to keep us ahead of the competition.
Below are some images of our associates in action. The top left image is with the Cake Boss. Top right is with ultra famous designer Tony Bowls. Middle left is our annual contribution to the Christian Laymen Association. Middle right is the filming of "Redneck Wedding" which we appeared in. Bottom left is our associates on a buying trip to Chicago. Bottom right is filming for the TV show "Bridezilla" in which we did NOT appear in because the bride never had any problems with us!