COVID-19 closure causes stress for dress shop owner

Kathy Koehn
Colorful formal dress options have been appearing in the windows of Pratt's former Jetts and Sears store on South Main Street, which will soon open as Small Town Curves, when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Dresses sparkling in the front window of the former Jetts store on South Main Street in Pratt belie something new is afoot. But all is not as good as it could be for Small Town Curves, a bridal gown/prom dress shop making a move to a bigger space.

Owners of “non-essential” businesses of all sizes are struggling with the reality left them in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic. In Pratt, one business that the shutdown has affected is Small Town Curves, owned and operated by Samantha Gwinn.

"We can no longer be open. We were not deemed an essential business,” said Gwinn. "We could have online sales and ship, but that is a little difficult to do with formal orders.”

Gwinn said that her business, which should be heading into their busy wedding season, is not able to offer much-anticipated formal services including bridal because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“All formal events are larger than groups of 10 which means all proms, galas and weddings are on hold,” she said. “Our formal sales are a large percentage of our business. We were in the heart of prom season when the virus hit. We were helping girls from multiple counties, states and schools find their perfect dress as well as bridal parties. As of now we have had to stop all prom sales and postpone all of our bridal appointments.”

Gwinn said the store is closed until further notice, but it has given her time to finish a move into a larger location in Pratt.

“We remain optimistic that this will end and business will pick back up,” she said. “We just moved into a new building and we are going to be able to expand our casual and dress wear selections, so when we are able to open again we will have more to offer.”

Gwinn said she was currently busy making arrangements for girls who had already ordered their dresses, both bridal and prom, to be able to pick them up.

“We hope that with Pratt High School rescheduling their prom to June 13 that we can still help some of the girls find their perfect dress once this is all over,” she said.

Postponements have become commonplace as the world and state deal with coronavirus.

“I have had one bride that has had to postpone her wedding,” Gwinn said. “She was set to get married in May and has rescheduled for October. I have had several brides who are set for fall weddings and all are hoping they won't have to do the same. I know that there are certainly more that are having to be rescheduled, or even canceled for the time being, and that's really hard.”