Tales from A Gathering Place 1: The Magic of One Red Dress

Last week a woman came into Gather made a B-line for the dress rack. She picked out two dresses —  one red and one cream — and went straight to the dressing room. She tried on the red one, summoned her boyfriend to come look. He nodded and she went back into the dressing room to put on her street clothes. While her boyfriend waited by the entrance, the woman came to the desk, red dress in hand to pay.

“You decided on that dress so fast!”I said as I ran her credit card .“Is this for a special occasion?”

“Yes,” she said, “My boyfriend and I just decided to elope. Red is an important color in my culture so this dress is perfect. We’re visiting from San Francisco so now we just need to find a place to get married.”

I told her about a few parks and small venues I knew about as I folded her red wedding dress into tissue paper and put it in a bag.

I walked around the plexiglass between us to hand her the bag and told her congratulations. Though she was wearing a mask, I could see her smile through it. “Thank you so much,” she said, “We’re really happy.” I felt happy too. I hoped she could see how big I was smiling through my mask.

When the red dress woman left I felt giddy. After many long months of restrictions, things have just started to open up in our city. We don’t have to limit the number of people in the store or be as vigilant as we were before. Most of us are vaccinated and feel a new sense of safety. The numbers are down and the hope is up.

This is what Gather is about. By definition, Gather is a place for women to shop for clothes. But it is so much more than that. Because Gather is a consignment store, the selection is completely unique. It is a collection of carefully curated treasures. Beautiful pieces that one woman has grown out of physically or stylistically become that perfect article of clothing for someone else.

Throughout the day women come in with shopping bags full of clothes and shoes and purses that they hope to consign. While they wait wander the racks for new finds. The shoppers try on items and ask our opinions on fit and color. No matter what other shop tasks we have, there’s always an open conversation between us and the shoppers. 

“Isn’t that dress so great!” one of us will say as we notice someone holding it up or “Those shoes would look so great with what you have on right now!” And it’s always sincere. Gather is a community. It’s a constant exchange, not just of merchandise, but of love and support. 

Sometimes shoppers leave with a new pair of slacks or a wedding dress. Other times they leave empty-handed, but full-hearted, having experienced the connecting moments in the gathering place.