15 Sep A TIME TO CELEBRATE
WORDS & PICTURES
The fast success of the bridal and formalwear shop has led to a recent expansion of its storefront and exponential growth of the business.
“I set the bar too high sometimes,” exclaims Sheleigh Martin, owner of Celebrate. No, she is not referring to shelving in her newly remodeled space, rather the incredibly fast trajectory that her small business is on all while still maintaining a full time career. Recently, while sitting down and talking shop with Sheleigh, it becomes clear that she’s not kidding. The impressive rise of the retail business has been a testament to the owner’s vision and ability to take action when the time is right.
In less than three years, Celebrate went from starting out in one suite to occupying three suites in The Shoppes on 2nd, a retail business incubator in downtown Rock Island. From there, it has been Sheleigh’s ability to place herself in the shoes (sometimes literally) of the customers that she serves on a weekly basis. The idea for Celebrate was born out of the frustration of dress shopping for her daughter and realization that there had to be a better solution.
This past summer, Celebrate expanded its footprint further by making a move to a new location at 323 18th Street. Still remaining downtown was important to Sheleigh and doubling the store’s square footage was just as much of a need. Now with two street-level display windows she has the ability to showcase more of her product and gain exposure in the always competitive bridal and formalwear industry.
What began as a consignment-based business that offered an off-the-rack experience with a desire to keep prices affordable and overhead low, has evolved into a formidable retail operation. “Not bad for someone who never worked a day of retail in her life,” states Sheleigh. “It’s fun. I don’t have to do it, but it really is what I enjoy. We’re judgement free and offer something unique to our customers. I didn’t know much I was going to love it.”
It is that type of passion for the business that is infectious and keeps what can be a stressful activity such as dress shopping more enjoyable for all. From that positivity, the word of mouth advertising and happy customers sharing posts on social media travels through the region.
Although Sheleigh never had a true business plan and has taken a more DIY approach, there have been no regrets and she said that she would do it the same way again. The hours of research and traveling to other shops paid off in the long run. Partnerships with venues and other like-minded businesses have begun to blossom and special requests continue to filter in.
Returning customers will notice the numerous changes at the new shop. Additional fitting rooms, bridal suites, and a viewing area create a more intimate and vibrant experience for everyone.
Gentleman, there’s no need to feel left out either. After debating it for awhile and having some hesitation, Celebrate recently started carrying tuxedos. In the end, it proved to be a great thing to add and another market that has proven to still be untapped. At bigger stores, you’ll find a more factory-like approach to men’s formalwear, but at Celebrate it’s yet another way they can continue to meet the style and price demands of local customers while also providing their signature service.
Celebrate has racked up many accomplishments relatively quickly. When asked about what is ahead for the business, Sheleigh notes, “We are just thrilled to be in downtown. I think there are some great things in store for Rock Island. We hope to give people more of a reason to come down here. I am genuinely excited about the future.”