When I first started my formal dress business in 2019, the intention was to rent dresses only. In fact, a local dress vendor where I bought some of my first dresses suggested I offer them for sale or rent, but I really  had no interest in that.

I set up my business in my basement and during the late summer/early fall of 2019, I had people over to look for dress rentals for homecoming dances. Even when I moved into my first retail store a couple months later, the name of the business was “Lincoln Formal Rental.”

A lot has changed in three years.

Fast forward to 2021, I found a business partner and we re-opened into a new retail store, a little larger than the first. We decided we would offer most of the dresses I still had for rent or sale. As time passed, it became apparent that the selling side of the business greatly surpassed the rental side.

So now, a little more than a year after we opened we have made a decision. We are phasing out the rental side of the businesses and will offer dresses for sale only. There are a number of reasons for this decision. I will outline them here.

  1. The vendors we buy our dresses from do not allow their dresses to be rented. That meant that any new dresses we bought were for sale only. The only dresses we had for rent were dresses that I acquired three years ago when I started. Some of them were wearing out. Eventually, these all these rental dresses would either be worn out or out of style, leaving us with no dresses to rent.
  2. There are some vendors we would be interested in purchasing from. However, they will not work with us because we rented dresses.
  3. As mentioned above, we sold far more dresses than we rented. I would estimate that 90 percent of our business was selling dresses rather than renting.
  4. Renting dresses complicated bookkeeping. Running a retail store where merchandise is sold requires tracking inventory. Inventory is not just tracked for our own purposes but also for tax purposes. My accountant has mentioned that having dresses that are both for sale or rent complicates the tax process and makes tracking inventory more difficult. Having dresses for sale only will make this process simpler for us and for the accountant.
  5. Dresses usually require alterations. When we rent dresses, the alteration part gets tricky. We have allowed minor, removeable alterations on rental dresses. However, this is a challenge. Most customers don’t want to do their own alterations, and if they take a dress to a seamstress that seamstress is not in the habit of doing removeable alterations. Many dresses require more than simple alterations, requiring dresses to be sold rather than rented anyway.

We realize that some of our customers will be disappointed by this news. As an alternative to rental dresses, we plan to stock more dresses that are lower priced. Generally, dresses we have in stock will sell from $150 to $600.

In the meantime, older dresses that had been available for rent will be available for sale at greatly discounted prices. We encourage you to come in and take a look.