The bridesmaid and special occasion gown shop is partnering with other local vendors to expand its offerings for brides and their 'maids.

Despite an economic downturn during a global pandemic, Gilded Social owner Tanya Hartman is growing her bridesmaid and social occasion gown storefront.

Last fall, the shop began offering the minority-owned Pia Gladys Peréy line. “They turn around in two to four weeks, and they own their own factory, so they can do customizations,” Hartman says. That includes the highly desirable ability to create dresses with different sizes on top and bottom, she adds. 

Around the same time, the shop also teamed up with downstairs neighbor Due Amici to offer shoppers a prix fixe meal in its loft-style private event space. (Streamlined menu, lunch or brunch, a beverage and a takeaway dessert runs $25.)

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“We time it around when you’re having your appointment with us,” Hartman says. “We’re really trying to help you have the absolute best dress shopping, ordering and wearing experience possible.”

To that end, in December, the shop started offering cleaning services through longtime partners Dublin Cleaners. “They help us preserve and take care of our inventory. They’re the best dry cleaners in town,” Hartman says. The shop will offer pre-purchase options (saves $5) and pickup and delivery within Central Ohio. Gilded Social also offers a day-after pickup service for garments that includes cleaning and a Gilded Garment package featuring a garment bag, a steam session, dry cleaning and a mini emergency kit.

Other new offerings include sample and unworn gowns that national bridal retailer BHLDN has donated to the national charity Wish Upon A Wedding. Gilded Social will sell the gowns on behalf of the charity. “Their operation is not set up to sell the hundreds—maybe thousands—of bridesmaid dresses they have,” Hartman says. “We are taking over helping them move some of their inventory.” Gilded Social will split the proceeds, she adds, meaning half of all sales will go back to support the services Wish Upon A Wedding provides to couples facing medical hardships. 

All of these expansions have come in an economy that’s been less than favorable to small businesses like Gilded Social. 

“In April, we were no different than every other business that looked forward and saw a very bleak picture,” Hartman says. “Our busy season is December through May. That’s when we create enough operating income to carry through [the rest of the year]."

After restructuring debt and taking on a PPP loan, Hartman says, “You have to accelerate through to the turns while you drive. … We will continue to offer new products and services into 2021.” 

Among those new services will be wedding-day styling assistance ($600 for a six-hour session), coming in January. “[The assistant] can be that extra set of hands to make sure you don’t have to carry anything, you’re on time everywhere, your photos look great, and provide peace of mind,” she says. “Our job doesn’t have to be over when you walk out of the store.”