Minden Press-Herald

Sep 19th

Downtown Bridal shop undergoing changes

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Anyone walking into Hers Bridal in downtown Minden lately might be a little surprised.

The dozens of racks crammed with prom and bridesmaid dresses dating back to the 80s have been liquidated to make room for brides and their mothers.

"I think it needs to be more mothers and weddings," owner Kayla Sparks said. "Most people don't want to buy a wedding dress online. They want to see it, feel it and try it on."

The business has been bombarded with calls asking if the downtown staple is closing. Though Sparks is interested in selling the longtime bridal shop, she says it's definitely not closing its doors.

"It's a Minden landmark that we're fighting to keep alive," she said. "It's been remodeled, and it looks different than it did before. People are apprehensive to come in because it is so different."

Hers has been in its current Main Street location since 1988 and has catered to brides from all over north Louisiana, east Texas and even into Mississippi. Those brides are now bringing in their daughters because of their experiences with Hers.

Sparks began working at the shop in 2007 under the ownership of her mother-in-law Janie Sparks and twin Joanie Starks.

Sparks purchased the shop in March 2012 as her daughter was getting ready to start kindergarten. She immediately began cleaning out thousands of outdated dresses and remodeling the upstairs bridal area.

In January 2013, she found out she was pregnant again, leaving her with a decision to make. She first contemplated selling the shop, but didn't want to run the risk of such a longtime downtown business closing in another's hands.

"After thinking about it, we have weddings booked until 2015," Sparks said. "You just wake up and pray about it every day. I don't want to make a rash decision and not be totally sure of it."

And with a second pageant and prom dress shop open a block away, those customers could stay local.

"Belle of the bal' is right down the road," Sparks said. "I'm just not getting a return on (pageant and prom) and they do a great job. I've sent customers to them."

So she opted to downsize to what she could handle with a newborn – brides and their mothers.

"I like to focus on one thing, and not too many shops focus on just brides and mothers-of-the-bride," she said. "I'm trying to get it down to a reasonable size stock that I can handle, and I want it to be what Hers Bridal is known for."

Connect with Kristi Martin on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @writtennred.

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