New owners of bridal shop
Business has 25-year legacy in Waupaca
By Angie Landsverk
When Bailey Abraham and Christine Schultz walked into Victorian Bridal and Formal Wear on Nov. 1, they did so as the new owners of the store.
They bought the business from Judy Bartel, who was part of it for more than 20 years.
“It’s surreal,” Abraham said.
Schultz said, “It was such an odd feeling. It feels like she’s (Bartel) on vacation.”
Abraham was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point when she started working at the store on weekends.
That was in June 2009.
After graduating with a degree in history and political science, she planned on going to law school.
Abraham said Bartel often said to her in a joking tone, “Oh Bailey, don’t go to grad school. Stick around and take over the store.”
In 2014, Abraham was about three weeks away from heading to Minneapolis to go to law school.
“I called Christine one day on my way to work. I think I was crying,” she said. “I said, ‘Let’s partner up. Let’s buy the store.’”
Schultz had started working at the store in early 2013, after being a stay-at-home mom.
“Let’s do it,” she responded to Abraham’s idea.
For Abraham, working at the bridal store had gone from a job she did during college to something she loved.
“The thought of missing out on my brides’ experiences here is really what did it,” she said of her decision to not attend law school.
She realized a part of her life was about to end, and she did not want it to.
“It’s a job you have to be passionate about. Otherwise, it doesn’t work,” Abraham said.
After Schultz started working there, she also knew how much she loved the work.
She was initially hired to work part time.
In addition to selling bridal gowns, Schultz learned how to do alterations.
Bartel began teaching her that aspect of the business about a year ago.
Schultz now does a lot of them.
Schultz and Abraham let Bartel decide when she was ready to sell the business to them.
“We soaked in and learned as much as we could until she was ready to pass the torch,” Abraham said.
As the new owners, they plan to continue providing what the store has always been known for – great customer service and a friendly atmosphere, Schultz said.
“The business has become so commercialized. We want to keep it personal,” Abraham said.
Schultz said smaller boutiques have an appeal.
Abraham estimates 80 percent of their customers are referrals.
“We really, really thrive on that,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something well if you’re getting someones cousin from hours away.”
Victorian Bridal & Formal Wear is located at 320 W. Fulton St.
The store’s winter hours during November, December and January are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The rest of the year, the Wednesday hours are extended, with the store open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day.
They prefer appointments for bridal parties, and may be reached at 715-258-5557.
Their recommendation is to order bridal dresses nine months before the wedding.
“Our designers actually cut your dress after it’s ordered,” Abraham said.
There is usually room for customization.
Schultz and Abraham want to continue offering a variety of wedding gown styles, from the timeless and classic to the unique.
Abraham said they also want to revamp what they offer for mothers of brides and grooms.
“We’re trying to get a better variety, from trendy to classic,” she said.
There are also tuxedos and suits for men, with navy continuing to be the popular color.
“We want to focus on grooms,” Abraham said. “We want them to like what they’re wearing and feel excited on their wedding day as well.”
She happens to be weeks away from her own wedding.
Abraham and Cody Zimmerman will be married on Dec. 1.
Abraham said Zimmerman and Schultz’s husband Ryan have been supportive.
Schultz and Abraham are also preparing for two days of sales throughout their store after Thanksgiving.
They are calling the sale on Friday, Nov. 23, the “White Friday Sale – Black Friday Gone Bridal” and hope to see many customers on Saturday, Nov. 24 as well, which is Small Business Saturday.
They are also getting ready to add the prom formals to the floor after Christmas.
There will be a debut party in the store with a DJ, making it a bigger event this year, they said.
Abraham and Schultz believe they make a good team.
They want to focus on being part of the community and doing more with the surrounding areas.
“We have a 25-year legacy to build on, and we just want to carry it into the future,” Abraham said.