KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Adrienne Wissner and her staff sanitized and cleaned her shop Memories Bridal and Evening Wear in downtown Kalamazoo all day Tuesday.
And, not once did she remove her mask.
“That was a little weird,” Wissner said during an interview with FOX 17 about wearing a mask all day. “It’s going to take some getting used to but it was so good being back with our staff. It was so good getting dressed up for the first time today in two months.”
Wednesday, Wissner reopened her bridal shop after being closed for two months due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home executive order.
The store opened at 11 a.m. and within an hour a bride was trying on wedding gowns and modeling them for her family.
“It is fabulous,” Wissner said. “That has been the best part of this past week is the excitement from my staff. They are so excited to get back, be with each other and be able to help their customers again.”
Wissner said she was excited to see her staff too. She hadn’t seen them since March 21 when she closed the store.
“The furloughing part was the hardest,” Wissner remembered. “That day was really tough for me. I was really fighting back tears when I had to make the phone calls to everybody.”
Wissner said being closed hurt them financially. March and April are their ‘prime selling months’ for prom dresses and they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We’re not going to get prom sales back like we had before,” Wissner said. “Because of that it probably means my family personally won’t have an income this year. But we have savings. We’ll be OK.”
Wissner said the last few months have been difficult since first learning about the coronavirus and it's impact on the bridal gown industry. She's kept an eye on the news and all the stay-at-home order extensions. She also kept in touch with her staff, letting them know what was going on.
“That was one of the hardest things about being at home during the furlough is not being able to do what you love,” Wissner said. “So they were all very excited to come back.”
Wissner was grateful to have them back, she said. She brought in only a few of her staff, complying with the governor’s orders about how many people can be in a store in regards to social distancing.
She said they also made a few changes.
“We’re requiring all customers and staff to wear masks so we can do our part to try to keep everyone safe and provide a safe working environment,” Wissner said. “We have hand sanitizer throughout the store.”
They’re also working by appointments only, she said. They’re even trying to set up video conferencing so family and friends can see brides as they try on dresses. And if a brides doesn’t want to try one on in the shop, she can take a few dresses home in their new Memories Bride Box program.
Wissner said they came up with a variety of services so they can continue to meet their customers wants while considering their concerns about the virus.
She foresees that they'll be operating in this way for a while because they have no plans on closing again.
“I think as we start to work with our customers again, it’s going to feel so much better,” Wissner said. “We’re going to figure out how to do this and how to feel great about it and how to get that great experience still.”