Ginny Barlow runs Encore Consignment Boutique in Alexandria. Her shop features an array of previously owned attire that's fit for any formal occasion — but absolutely no wedding gowns.
"For one thing, they take up an enormous amount of space," said Barlow, whose shop is located at 110 S. Union Street. "And it could be bad luck. People want their own gown."
Wedding dresses aren't easily, or typically, found in consignment and thrift shops. Calls to several around Northern Virginia revealed they chose not to carry them in stock. Barlow said there are several reasons for that.
"People who bring their dresses in want top dollar for them because they spend a lot on them," she said. "To get the customer in here, they’re looking for a bargain. If they want to spend a lot of money on a gown, they’ll go out and buy their own new one."
The money spent altering a consignment gown can come close to the money spent on it.
"The worst thing about wedding gowns is that they have to be designed to fit you. Even if you bought the style you like for, say, $500, it’s going to cost you $400 to get it to fit you. You’ll never find anything that fits you [off the rack]," said Barlow.
STILL, THERE IS A market for consignment wedding dresses, and two shops in the area offer them.
The TWIG Thrift Shop at 106 N. Columbus St. in Alexandria is a donation-based store whose proceeds benefit Inova Alexandria Hospital. The Thrift Shop has helped The Twig, the junior auxiliary of the hospital, raise more than $1.7 million for the hospital.
According to Linda Lovell, who assists with the shop, there are about four wedding dresses on hand at TWIG. They are donated in a preservation box, and may come complete with veil and other accessories. They usually aren't displayed until April, so customers will have to ask for them.
TWIG is open from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The TWIG Shop can be reached at 703-683-5544.
Several Northern Virginia shops that did not carry wedding gowns pointed to I Do-I Do Wedding Gowns, located at 15932 Luanne Drive in Gaithersburg, Md., as the region's top destination for consignment and previously-owned dresses.
The shop offers consignments up to 90 percent off retail price, and boasts over 600 gowns in its inventory from sizes 2 through 44. Prices range from $150-$4,000. Visit www.idoidoweddinggowns.com for more information and to schedule a visit to this appointment-only shop.