BUSINESS March 9th, 2011

By Kelly Gadzala

A match made in the Beach

Forgoing the giant wedding shows, Beach vendors host their own

Is the Beach going bridal?

The mega wedding shows downtown may be long gone, but further eastward in the city a bridal show for local businesses may be jumpstarting a bridal movement in the Beach.

Held February 26 in the Beach United Church, The Beach Wedding Show involved about 20-30 mostly local retailers and service providers, says show creator and Beach resident Dawn Barbieri.

The turnout was small, about 60 people, she says. But it’s clear Barbieri sees great potential for both the show and educating locals about products and services they may not know about.

Her goal was to bring local businesses together under one roof and engage the community, Barbieri says, adding that she settled on weddings as a theme because they’re recession-proof.

The show’s vendors comprised a pretty even split of businesses geared toward the bridal industry and those not specifically geared toward that industry but perhaps looking to be exposed to that market, she says.

With a handmade eco-cushion business of her own under the name of Albertine Dawn, Barbieri says the show was one way of getting a special pillow she makes called the wedding pillow out there to potential buyers.

“I wanted to make sure I was in that market.”

Shirley Ramundi of Beaufort Décor on Queen Street East around Coxwell Avenue says she had been thinking of offering an official gift registry service and wedding bombardiers since participating in a bridal show held at Michelle Quance Photography last May.

She sells wedding gifts and has done the odd party favour order for clients, Ramundi says, and is now offering both on official basis. She’s even thinking of partnering with stores in the area to expand her registry product offering.

“It’s also good to connect with brides and families,” Ramundi says.

“It makes sense to start to tap into that market.”

Michelle Quance of Michelle Quance Photography, who also participated in Barbieri’s show, held a “Weddings on Main Street” event last May at her Main Street and Gerrard Street area photography studio featuring 12 bridal service providers she’s worked with and would recommend to her clients.

The Internet is so overwhelming when it comes to searching for bridal resources, Quance says, that some may be looking for a more personalized experience.

“People want to get back in touch with meeting other people,” she says.

Quance is seeing a growing faction of wedding-related service providers in the area — for example, she says in the last five years she’s seen a lot of customers getting into the bridal biz after getting married.

If locals know about a bridal event promoting local services such as The Beach Wedding Show, she says she thinks they’ll attend. Many of her clients, mostly young couples, often tell her they want to work with people in their area, she says.

“People have loyalty to their neighbourhood.”