An Alexandria staple since 1984, Hannelore’s of Olde Town bridal boutique is shuttering at the end of February. Pamela Vito, 55, who co-owns the store with her mother, Hannelore Karpinski, 78, have decided to retire after over three decades of dressing DC brides.
The idea to retire didn’t come on its own; Vito and Karpinski were approached with an unsolicited offer to buy the building that houses Hannelore’s.
“I said, ‘Our building is not for sale.’ He said, ‘Everything’s for sale,’” says Vito. “I spoke to him, and he made us and offer that we absolutely could not refuse.”
Vito says that while she and her mother have enjoyed their career, they’re ready to retire–though Vito plans to continue working in the bridal industry, possibly acting as a United States representative for an overseas design house.
“We figured, we’ve been in business over 30 years, we’ve had a successful and vibrant career, and rather than downsize, we just decided to call it a day and to go out in style,” says Vito.
As a store that markets designer wedding gowns that sell for thousands, Hannelore’s is certainly able to go out in style–and to send away their last wave of bridal customers in style, too. Between now and their February 28 closing, the store is selling all of their sample gowns for between 50 and 75 percent off. Last weekend, Hannelore’s hosted 75 bridal appointments, providing one bride with the opportunity to take home a $10,000 gown for just $2,500.
Brides who want to shop the sale must call or email the store to set up an appointment. Vito brought in an extra set of hands to help with the sales this weekend, so there are currently still appointments available for January 16 and 17. Business will continue as usual until the official closing, with the exception of the alterations: Vito says that in-store alterations will no longer be available, but she intends to pass out the names and numbers of the seamstresses she’s worked with in years past.
Of all she’s leaving behind with the store’s closing, one of the things Vito will miss the most is working with the brides.
“The brides are like my Barbie dolls, and I’m going to miss them terribly,” she says.