By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photos by Ken Ketchie.
Did Someone Say Party?
Are you ready to say “I do” to the bridal gown of your dreams? Searching for the perfect dress for next big formal event or special occasion? If you’re in the High Country, you’re in luck.
For more than two decades now, downtown Boone has been home to one of the best formalwear shopping experiences in the Carolinas.
Wedding parties, prom goers and shoppers from all walks of life have on countless occasions found “happily ever after” in this one-of-a-kind specialty store. Then again, with access to exclusive designers, a vast array of options and matchless customer service, how could they not?
Did Someone Say Party?
Donna Cook first joined the local wedding industry working with a rental company in the 1980s. After several years spent making all those other details happen, the entrepreneur, wedding planner and seamstress extraordinaire took a leap of faith and chose to focus on her favorite aspect of the business.
“I had the candelabras and the tents and the dishes and the table cloths and the party goods and all that stuff. Eventually we brought in prom dresses, and prom dresses led to wedding dresses,” she said. “We donated the cups, the plates, the tablecloths and all of those things to the churches and we went with the dresses. It just sort of evolved that way.”
In 1989, she opened her own store, Did Someone Say Party?, in the heart of downtown Boone at 685 West King St., which today offers 5,000 square feet of retail space and three floors packed with more dresses than you can count.
The shop boasts two decades of positive working relationships with some of the industry’s most coveted designers, which translates into reliable, personal and special access to some of the most sought-after gowns.
“We work with designers that are exclusive to us that they can’t get online or at 100 different places. We’ve worked with our designers for more than 20 years and they protect our rights to the lines,” Cook said. “We respect them and represent them as designers. My designers take care of me, too.
“We’ve got their lines in here for people to try on. A girl needs to put the dress on and know that she feels beautiful in it. When you buy something online, you don’t know what you’re getting.”
The variety of options for premier, high-quality products makes DSSP stand out from many bridal and prom shops, but that’s only part of the reason Cook’s customers keep coming back for every special occasion in their lives.
A Sweet Process
Nearly every girl who walks through the front door as a customer walks out as part of the DSSP family, and the exceptional customer service they receive as a shopper quickly translates into the foundation for a lifelong friendship.
Don’t believe it? Just check out the dozens of scrapbooks that Cook keeps in the shop of the brides she’s helped over the years, and the photos of their growing families that the keep sending back to her.
“It’s just a sweet process. We encourage our brides to come back to us and show us pictures of their babies when they start their families,” she said. “I’m still getting postcards from girls that I married 20 something years ago. They send me pictures of their babies and we put them with their wedding pictures.”
Many of Cook’s regular customers return to the shop every time they need a new dress, and some travel from out of state just to enjoy shopping at DSSP.
“Now we’re on our second generation,” said Cook. “The girls that I married off when I first started doing wedding gowns, their daughters have grown up and we’ve done their prom dresses. Now we’re doing their wedding dresses and there’s a big bond there. They’re family.”
Hayden Porter, soon to be Hayden Bradford, turned to DSSP to find the perfect dress for her big day and, in the process, made some new friends for life.
“They’re very personal and they know who I am when I call. The experience is very individualized, so much more so than you would get at a chain,” she said. “They’ve been able to take whatever questions or concerns that I’ve had and fix them and reassure me.
“It’s just so much more fun to come to a place where you have a relationship with the people who work here than it is to go somewhere else. This is the fourth place I came to find a dress, but I knew I didn’t need to look anymore once I got here.”
You’ll find so much more than the perfect gown when you shop at DSSP. Not only will Cook and consultant Laura Lewis pull unique and handpicked options for you, they’ll help you understand which size you need and learn which shapes work best for your figure.
“If you feel pretty you look beautiful. So many girls don’t know what size they are, and the sizing is so much different,” Cook said. “When you try on an 8 because you wear an 8 in normal sizes, it’s really a 4.”
With weddings happening all the time and prom season picking up right after Christmas, DSSP stays busy just about all year long. However, even when the store is packed, you don’t need an appointment to walk right in and feel at home.
“Just show up,” said Cook. “I think the person who is in my store is just as important as that person who made an appointment.”
More of the Same
Hard work and the courage to follow her dreams allowed Cook to enjoy her life as both an entrepreneur and a mother.
“I was able to raise my children in this store. When the kids were little, they played on the third floor,” said Cook. “When they were teenagers, they hung out on the third floor. We’ve lived in this building and I’ve raised children here.”
Now, 26 years after she set out to create the best specialty shopping experience in the High Country, Cook says she looks forward to “more of the same” at DSSP.
“I’ve had many offers to open a franchise, but I spend 24/7 in here just about,” she said. “I’ve got great girls, but if I’m not here then I’m not included, and I don’t want to be an owner that’s not here.”
Cook said plans for the future include creating a private upstairs showroom on the third floor for brides who bring guests along for advice, and working day in and day out to continue providing the best experience possible for local and visiting shoppers.
“Bridal and prom is just such an emotional time. It’s fun,” she said. “Sometimes it can be nerve-racking and it can make you want to run out the back door; but if I ran out, I’d turn around and I’d come right back.”
DSSP is a member of the High South Event Professionals network — a community of like-minded industry pros who work together to promote the mountains of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia as the premier special events destination in the Southeast.
Meet preferred local HSEP vendors at the High South Wedding Expo at the Boone Mall on Sunday, March 20.
Need some more information? Check out DSSP online or call the shop at 828-264-7307.