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Another go-round for prom gowns


The idea started as a modest one: One Rochester mom's attempt to recoup the hundreds of dollars spent over the years on her two daughters' vintage prom dresses.

Shelly Halfman soon came to realize that she wasn't alone. Once other moms got wind of it, the idea snowballed. When Halfman hosts her Prom Resale event at her northeast Rochester home on Sunday, there will be more than 140 prom dresses, collectively valued at more than $20,000, for buyers to choose from.

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Laying awake at night, Halfman pondered what to do with the accumulation of gowns bought for her two daughters when they were in high school.

"I'm like, 'I can't be the only mother with this problem.' I don't know if you know anything about (prom shops in the area), but prom dresses typically go from $200 to $700," Halfman said.

What she found was a lively market, particularly from the seller's end, for re-selling close-to-mint-condition prom dresses.

Halfman rejected selling the gowns through resale shops because the stores take nearly 50 percent from the resale and she wasn't willing to accept only $100 on a $500 dress, particularly one that had been worn only a couple of times.

The gowns on sale Sunday will go for anywhere from $125 to $400, about half of what they cost brand new in a prom shop.

Halfman said she has already held two such re-sales this season and sold between 20 and 25 dresses. As word spreads and more high school girls hear about the opportunity, she hopes more buyers will emerge.

Her hope, when she originally conceived of the idea, was to get perhaps 30 to 40 dresses. Then it grew to 50. Now it stands at 130 — and growing. The greater variety enhances the chance that buyers will find what they're looking for, she said.

"It's about the girl finding the right dress for them," said Halfman, who owns a personal training studio. "It's about that perfect fit, the perfect color, the perfect length, so it's a hard thing to do. When you have a variety of dresses in one place, you have a lot of better options.

Halfman said she takes 20 percent from the resale of dresses. She hadn't planned on taking "much of anything," but soon realized a prom resale involves sundry chores that can be time-consuming. Halfman, for instance, is working on publishing an online magazine that will feature some of the gowns worn by the original wearers. She lets moms set their own prices, but will offer advice if she thinks the price tag is too low.

"I'm actually kind of choosy at this point, very selective of what I'm taking in," Halfman said. "I get phone calls, 'Hey, I have five vintage evening dresses want to get rid of.' I say, 'I'm not here to get rid of dresses. I'm here to match buyers and sellers.'"

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