Getting married and on a budget?
Well, Goodwill to the rescue.
The non-profit has organized a bridal sale to help brides-to-be say "Yes!" to the dress of their dreams.
The Goodwill of Pennsauken held a "Running of the Brides" sale last Saturday. Fifteen brides were let into the store at a time, and greeted with cheers and applause from the Goodwill staff as they ran to the dress display.
Designer wedding gowns on sale for $49 to $299.99 were marked down from $199 to $4,000. Some of the labels include Maggie Sottero, Kleinfeld, Alfred Angelo and Demetrios. Brides traveled from as far away as Virginia, South Orange and Princeton. But, most shoppers came from the Philadelphia area.
After standing in line for nearly three hours, wide-eyed Charlotte Hughes, who traveled from Virginia, combed the bridal racks with her mother Joyce, who lives in Lumberton.
"I really like it. I really like it. I'm really shocked," said Hughes, after trying on a Casablanca, the first dress she picked out.
The 6th annual daylong sale got off to a great start last Saturday, but since this year's inventory is high, the discount donation center has decided to extend the sale through Valentine's Day weekend.
"People have the weather blues and it's still tough economic times," said Juli Lundberg of the Goodwill. "We are giving these brides an opportunity to save some money."
The Goodwill had 375 gowns in inventory, and there are nearly 200 dresses still available. The remnants of last week's ice storm and this week's Nor'easter have not helped sales this year. On Saturday, $10,000 worth of gowns were sold. While that's not as lucrative as last year, organizers are hoping more sales will come in over the next few days. All sales are final.
To appease her mother, Heather Banks of Springfield Township tried on a dress her mom picked out. When Banks looked in the mirror, she managed to put a grin on her face.
"It's not bad. It's just not mine. I promised my mom I'd try it on. It's a little itchy," said Banks. Her mother agreed it wasn't the right dress, and they both ended up liking another style much better.
As shopping carts stuffed with wedding dresses zoomed up and down the aisle, one bride-to-be walked around with a look of disappointment on her face. Marke Jackson of Germantown didn't find what she was looking for -- a mermaid style dress that would show off her curves. She walked away without a gown that day, but said she would keep looking until she finds the perfect wedding dress.
Some used the sale as an opportunity to buy a dress for another dressy occassion. Nicole Douglas and her daughter Morgan shopped for a dress to wear to the AKA sorority debutante ball held in the spring.
The Goodwill holds the "Running of the Brides" sale around Valentine's day each year. It originated as a way to help the organization raise money for its programs and help brides on a budget acquire that perfect designer dress. Throughout the year, the Goodwill reaches out to bridal boutiques seeking donations to ensure there's a good stock of wedding dresses each February.
Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia uses the proceeds from its clothing sales to help put people with special needs to work and to fund job training and career services. The Pennsauken store is located at 5461 Marlton Pike.
"There's still a lot of beautiful gowns left," said Lundberg. "We're keeping the fundraiser going and hope to make some more brides happy."