Boutique builds beyond the bridal basics
Blueberry Bridal owner opens Kennewick shop as chain store alternative
Blueberry Bridal Boutique — a concierge bridal store — opened eight months ago in Kennewick, but the path to its opening has been in the works for nearly eight years.
Sitting on a teal tufted sofa inside the brightly lit interior of the carefully designed store, owner Amber Keller talks with tears in her eyes about the joy of accomplishing her life’s dream.
“It’s more than I’ve ever expected or dreamed,” she said.
The 1,600-square-foot store features floor to ceiling windows at the entrance and two private areas to try on dresses.
Brides can commemorate the occasion of saying yes to their dress in the boutique’s photo booth.
Blueberry Bridal carries a mix of dresses, from trendier brands such as Essence of Australia, traditional lines like Casablanca and Sophia Tolli, and more conservative picks like Modest by Mon Cheri.
The shop also carries a selection of prom or formal occasion dresses and accessories.
The dresses range from $900 to $3,000, although most of them fall between $1,200 and $1,600.
“I wanted a variety of dresses. Not every girl has the same picture in her head about what she wants to look like. I didn’t want cookie-cutter dresses either. I wanted them to be unique,” Keller said.
The Richland High graduate remembers the moment she knew she wanted to own her own bridal boutique more than eight years ago in Seattle. She had moved to Seattle after living in Tri-Cities for seven years after graduating from the University of Washington.
“I felt Seattle was calling me back. I was young and single and wasn’t finding much opportunity to do fun things, but it was still so expensive to live in Seattle,” she said.
Keller often was working multiple jobs to afford life in the city. One was as a part-time sales associate at a bridal shop.
“On like the first or second day, I knew it. It came over me
like nothing I had ever felt in my life. It was this powerful feeling of being
absolutely sure this is what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
“I just felt so happy being around the brides. They are at a point in their life where they are happy and excited, and I wanted to be around that while helping them find their perfect dress.”
From that moment on, she worked toward her goal to open up her own bridal boutique. She decided to return to the Tri-Cities, to have the help of her family and because competition was fierce in Seattle. There’s also competition here — like David’s Bridal — but she remains resolute.
“I have such a will and determination. I didn’t want that to deter me from opening up my own shop,” she said, “This goal has been my life for eight years. The Tri-Cities is growing and there will be more brides here.”
She’s been preparing, from saving up, to taking classes on how to run a small business, to watching TLC’s “Say Yes To the Dress.” She stocked two binders full of inspiration and ideas for her boutique, including names.
But when it came time to name her business, Keller said she didn’t like any of them. She and her mom had brainstorming sessions to think of names and they would start by thinking of names of different things, like flowers, trees or bushes. When her mom blurted out “blueberry,” it stuck, she said.
Keller said giving clients individual and personalized attention is important to her. Brides can make an appointment anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week on the Blueberry Bridal website.
Brides may bring up to four friends and family members. As soon as they walk in the door, a sign with their name greets them, signaling that this moment and this space is theirs for the next couple of hours to find the perfect dress. Most dresses in shop take about three to seven months to get in, but if brides are in a hurry, they can pick a dress off the rack in their size.
In the next year, Keller hopes to add 80 more dresses to the selection. And in the next two to three years, she hopes to hire an employee to accommodate more brides.