Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery, one of the oldest bridal stores in the Charlotte area, is closing its doors after 36 years in business.
Owner Karen Chase, 67, said she has decided to retire. Chase is the store’s fourth owner, and has operated the gallery for the last 18 years. The store officially closes at 5 p.m. on Feb. 25.
To prepare for that, the gallery is currently liquidating all of its inventory, Chase said. The store – which sells bridal dresses from designers like Paloma Blanca, Casa Blanca, Ellis Bridals and Emma Bridals – has a few dresses that are newer arrivals and marked down 15 percent off. The others are discounted by up to 65 percent.
Chase, a former registered nurse, got into the bridal business fortuitously in 1996 when a friend asked her to help with selling tuxedos at a bridal shop in Fort Mill during prom season. She stuck with the business, learning as she went, before she and her husband Steve bought Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery around 1998.
Chase said she considered selling, and even had several interested buyers at one point. But once she gave them the full run-down of what operating a bridal gallery entails, their interest waned, she said.
“They see the pretty side, the fun side of seeing brides trying on dresses,” Chase said. “Then we sat down to talk about what it takes – purchasing gowns, giving up your weekends. They didn’t realize all of that.”
Upon retiring, Chase said she plans to have foot surgery and spend more time with her grandchildren.