All photos by Alana Whelan
When Rebecca Ciamacco got married a few years ago, she was overwhelmed by the cost of wedding dresses. That experience helped shape a business idea.
“I wanted to come up with a way to kind of help ease the burden for future brides as the price of things just continues to go up,” Ciamacco tells Scene. “And I felt like there was untapped potential because your dress is only worn once.”
Thanks to her new second-hand bridal boutique, B. Free Bridal
(12710 Madison Ave., Lakewood), which opened Feb. 16, soon-to-be-brides now have the option to purchase a high quality wedding dress at a much lower price.
One of the only resale bridal boutiques in the Cleveland area, all the gowns found in the shop cost less than $800 — a far cry from what many fork out for on a new dress for just one special day.
According to the Knot
, the average wedding dress for U.S. brides was $1,631 in 2018. This number is a sliver of the average cost of the entire wedding, which the Knot reported was a little more than $33,000 in 2017.
With B. Free Bridal, Ciamacco wants to ease some of that cost burden for buyers, while also providing brides with the option to give their dress new life after the wedding. Most of the gowns come from brides who are ready to part with their once-worn wedding dress, but some are bought from other boutiques around Cleveland and throughout the country, Ciamacco says.
“It’s just nice to know that your dress is being worn again,” Ciamacco said. “It’s not just sitting in a box under the bed for 20, 30 years. It gets to be worn again and used.”
The modern shop focuses on four distinct lines of dresses, which include designer, occasions, resold and accessories, carried in sizes 0 to 24. The idea with the four distinct lines is to cater to every type of bride who comes in searching for their special gown.
“It’s important to me to really be intentional about the dresses that I bring into my shop because they are for brides who are looking for something a little bit different,” Ciamacco said.
The resold line in particular is unique as Ciamacco updates and redesigns some of the dresses herself to make them more individualized.
The needs of the shop depend on many factors, including the season, the stock, and the styles they’re looking for at the time, but Ciamacco stresses they are always seeking vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces to add to their collection. Right now, the shop is in need of dresses that are 5 years old or less and dresses size 14 and up.
They consistently post updates of current needs on their website. So far, Ciamacco reports that many have expressed interest in selling to the shop, and she has received a variety of gowns that match each of the diverse lines.
With so many options, some prospective brides end up choosing a dress they never would have considered otherwise, so keeping an open mind is important, Ciamacco says.
“The bridal retail business in the United States is over $3 billion a year because of how much is sold and used once, so [our business] really is helping things to be more sustainable,” Ciamacco says. “And I think it’s also just nice to know that you’re shopping local and things have been bought from local brides and the money is going back out into the community as well.”
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