Poor Little Rich Girl Rich in Space
The popular bridal shop moved across Belair Road
Poor Little Rich Girl moved across Belair Road a month ago and expanded not just its space but its image as a bridal salon.
"We look more professional here," said owner Linda Fike, pointing to ample wall space to display bridal gowns and a spacious alcove with three dressing rooms and a carpeted platform in front of two walls of mirrors. A glass display case, full of tiaras and hair clips, and veils adorn another wall.
She initially was nervous about the move, since parking is behind the store at 9105 Belair Road, which is next to Papa John's pizza.
For years, Fike ran the business in an old house owned by the Double T Diner, but the cramped space meant that bridal dresses were upstairs, while mother-of-the-bride dresses were downstairs.
Fike laughed as she recalled how customers would walk into the old store and immediately ask for a discount. "Now they don't do that," she said.
Customers can be forgiven for expecting a bargain—when Fike bought the business 20 years ago, it was a consignment store. "I started pushing the formal wear," she said. Nine years ago, she discontinued consignments to focus on formal wear, offering not just bridal fashions, but prom dresses and rental tuxedos.
"We are not a consignment store," she said firmly.
She thought about changing the store's name, but decided not to as a matter of loyalty to her customers who visit her shop, some as far away as Columbia, Hagerstown and Ocean City.
Another thing that hasn't changed is her commitment to affordability.
"I don't raise my prices at prom time," she said. "I don't see why you have to spend $2,000 to $3,000 dollars on a wedding dress. For me a wedding is not about the dress, it's about the vows."
Affordable doesn't mean her wares are any less stylish, and one challenge is to know what customers will want and to offer enough samples of both traditional and newer fashions.
"If you guess wrong, you're stuck with a lot of dresses," she said with a laugh.
She also prides herself on helping brides of all shapes and sizes. It is particularly rewarding, she said, "when a girl comes in and the other shops haven't been nice to her because she wears a larger size. We're not all a size 6. That gives me great joy, to help her find her special dress."
While the gowns might be formal, the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. The official greeter, a tiny white bichon frise named Katie, played with her chew toys on the salon floor.
Customer Allan Peacock of Oliver Beach, who wore a size 44 regular, stopped in to get fitted for a tuxedo.
"It's nice; they're personal people," he said of staffers. "That's what I look for."
Another customer dropped by to pick up a wedding tuxedo, while another would-be groomsman called to say he was running late—Fike agreed to wait for him after closing time.
Why stay in such an unpredictable business?
"I like helping the bride," she said. "I like seeing the joy in the bride's face when she says, 'This is the right one.' "
Poor Little Rich Girl is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.