Formal dress shop leaves mall for SC site

FLINT TWP. — Young women shopping for Homecoming dresses had to drive a bit further this year to shop at Expressions in Silk Bridal & Prom, a perennial favorite.

The dress specialty shop moved back to Swartz Creek in May after a one-year stay at Genesee Valley Center shopping center.

After some 30 years of doing business in Swartz Creek, Expressions moved into a bigger store at the mall in June 2011. At that time, owner Patti Ruhala said she felt it was time to spread her wings.

But Ruhala says she only had a one-year lease at the mall and expected to move back to her old location at 7530 W. Miller Road in Swartz Creek.

Perhaps some past customers learned of the move when arriving at the former mall store to find it vacant and dark but Ruhala and staff made a great effort to notify customers about the relocation. More than 600 postcards were mailed and 174,000 Facebook notices sent to past customers, she said.

Also the store’s website has been updated but Ruhala said getting social networking and other Internet sites back up-todate is still an ongoing challenge.

“I have been working hard to get them back in alignment,” Ruhala said.

Before moving back to Swartz Creek, the building, which Ruhala owns, was remodeled and the dressing rooms redecorated. Most of the changes involved energy upgrades and cosmetic improvements but a few walls were removed or relocated, Ruhala said.

While the staff enjoyed the open floor space at the mall store, it is interesting that many long-time customers told Ruhala that they preferred the more intimate, smaller setting in Swartz Creek, she said.

Homecoming is not as huge a shopping occasion as prom, Ruhala said, noting that many young women are scaling back spending due to the economy.

Ruhala said she and her staff are looking ahead to new programs the store will be offering for the upcoming prom season.

For one, they will be working with My Dreams Do Come True, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes gently-used prom dresses to girls who need them.

Expressions will set up a donations box in the store and also participate in a kick-off event on Jan. 13 at Bubba O’Malley’s in Burton, Ruhala said.

Expressions will offer an in-store credit for donations varying between $25 and $50, Ruhala said.

Prom shopping has already begun, she said. Her store does inventory reductions and markdowns in November to make room for new merchandise. Regular customers come in then to check out the sales prices.

Expressions in Silk can be reached at 810- 630-6592.

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