Ground Floor: Dream Dresses pop-up shop in Hiawatha helps find formalwear

Business specializes in prom, homecoming dresses

Dream Dress owner Jill Webb helps a customer select dresses at the homecoming and prom dress pop-up shop in Hiawatha on Friday, August 25, 2017. Dream Dress features both new and consignment homecoming and prom dresses. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Dream Dress owner Jill Webb helps a customer select dresses at the homecoming and prom dress pop-up shop in Hiawatha on Friday, August 25, 2017. Dream Dress features both new and consignment homecoming and prom dresses. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

By the time her daughter, Abby, graduated from high school, Jill Webb had shopped for a lot of formal dresses.

After buying three prom dresses and four homecoming dresses, sometimes traveling as far away as Des Moines or Chicago so Abby could find just the right dress for the occasion, Webb reached a conclusion.

“For a city the size of Cedar Rapids, there could be more options for places to shop for specialty dresses,” she said.

Adding to Webb’s frustration was the fact that they spent a lot of time and money on dresses that would be worn only once.

“You end up with a very expensive dress and then what do you do with it?” she said.

As Abby was preparing for her high school graduation in the spring of 2016, Webb saw a Facebook post about a pop up shop in the Kansas City area that sold formal dresses. Intrigued, she contacted the business owner to learn more.

“She gave me a lot of great advice,” Webb said. “She even gave me the names of vendors she had used.”

Webb, who works as a human resources professional, took the leap in the fall and established Dream Dress, selling new and previously worn prom and homecoming dresses. Webb said most dresses are in the $50 to $259 price range.

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As a pop-up shop, Dream Dress doesn’t have a permanent location. Rather, Webb holds special sale events at different times of the year.

Her first event, in February, was at the Marion Legion. For subsequent sales, she leased an event space in the Trendsetter Place building in Hiawatha.

“I don’t have overhead,” she said. “My costs are low, so I can sell low.”

Webb said about 70 percent of her inventory is new, including designer dresses that she sells at discounted prices.

“I try to provide a nice, high-end dress without breaking the bank,” she said.

The remaining 30 percent includes dresses sold on consignment. Consignors pay a $5 fee to help Webb cover advertising and space rental costs.

They receive 60 percent of the sale price and get to shop the Dream Dress sales before anyone else.

To make sure she’s staying up to date on what high school girls want in formalwear, Webb uses focus groups to help her select inventory. Earlier groups have included the Kennedy High School dance team and the Prairie High School cheerleaders.

Webb’s daughter, now in college, also offers her opinion. And, Webb said, Abby always has a question for her mother: “Why didn’t you do this four years ago?”

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AT A GLANCE

Owner: Jill Webb

Business: Dream Dress

Telephone: (319) 210-7190

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Dream-Dress-1309049279114658

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