A traffic light, six mannequins, a well-situated picture window – and a love of fashion – are what Nanette Del Valle mixed together to launch her dream job.
Nearly six years ago, she left the paralegal world behind to open The White Pear, a women’s formalwear consignment boutique in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
On Aug. 2, she opened her second White Pear boutique in Wesley Chapel, at 1045 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., near County Line Road.
The original boutique, which started in her home, eventually settled into a brick-and-mortar shop, with five employees and 4,000 dresses.
In its infancy, Del Valle would adorn mannequins in glamorous gowns and cocktail dresses. Motorists pausing at a red light by her house would get an eyeful through her picture window.
“That was my billboard,” she said “I would change the windows weekly.”
A Facebook page, with postings three times a day, also tapped into the social media market. “That’s how it blossomed,” Del Valle said.
She started with about 80 dresses. Most came from the closets of friends and family.
Many of the dresses at the Wesley Chapel shop came from her Pottsville flagship store. But, already Del Valle said she is receiving consignment gowns locally.
Del Valle is sharing retail space with Jennifer Smith, owner of Fancy Frock.
Smith opened her bridal shop nearly six years ago, selling wedding gowns as well as women’s formalwear for all occasions. But, she is focusing now on her first love – brides and wedding gowns.
“That’s my true passion,” said Smith, a former Pasco County teacher.
Del Valle is filling out the shop with formal gowns and dresses for proms, homecomings, informal weddings and special occasions. All of the once-worn dresses are sold on consignment with a 50/50 split on sales.
She also sells new jewelry and shoes.
A seamstress is in-house to help with alterations.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Del Valle said.
Del Valle and her husband moved to Wesley Chapel about a year ago, getting ready for retirement in sunny Florida.
But, The White Pear remains her baby, and the future looks bright as Pasco booms with new development.
In Pennsylvania, two formal seasons, in winter and spring, are the biggest selling times.
But Del Valle said, “It’s a different market down here. There are more galas and events where women need a beautiful dress.”
There also is an abundance of high schools with young girls eager to find special gowns for proms.
“There is a need for the service I have,” Del Valle said. “Proms are probably my biggest events.”
She carries high-end designers, such as Jovani, Sherri Hill and Rachel Allan. Prices are 50 to 60 percent off retail, and some dresses cost as little as $25.
Del Valle said she enjoys giving personalized service for customers looking for just the right dress for special occasions. “My husband calls me a memory maker,” she said.
Published August 10, 2016