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Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - 'Promdicator' indicates a booming season

Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - 'Promdicator' indicates a booming season

Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - 'Promdicator' indicates a booming season

Jan Moore


      We are inundated with economic barometers on a daily basis. From the unemployment rate to the consumer price index, these important, closely watched indices are reported on with great fervor as we all hold our collective breath.
      These indicators supposedly tell us what "Main Street" is doing and should be feeling, but I argue, there is a barometer that is being ignored, one that is equally as telling as any on MSNBC, Fox News, or CNN (or any of the media outlets that start my day off with a cup of anxiety).
      That barometer is the "Promdicator." Yes, I made that word up. In a nutshell, the Promdicator is an economic indicator which represents the interest that high school age girls (and their mothers) have in spending money on this year's prom. In my humble opinion, money spent on the high school prom is about as discretionary as it comes, and because of that, prom spending is extremely telling.
      Drum roll please ... the Promdicator is very, very positive which is good news. Last week, Frills & Fancies held its third annual Prom Dress preview show at the Emma Kelly Theatre, and at least 200 or more attendees had to be turned away.
      "The Emma Kelly holds over 350 people, and we had people in the aisles, and in the lobby," said Scott Marchbanks, owner of Frills & Fancies on South Main Street. "The Fire Marshall made a number of people leave, and there were several people outside that couldn't even get in. I had no idea that this many girls would come. I was floored. It was estimated that over 600 showed up, and I am so sad that many weren't able to see the show."
      This is the third year that Marchbanks has had a show highlighting the prom dresses in his store, and he continues to be amazed at the response.
      "I bought the store four years ago, and we have had double digit increases in the sale of prom dresses each year," he said. "We expect to sell well over a 1,000 prom dresses this year."
      Marchbanks has hired 30 temporary employees to serve as "prom princesses" to give each customer individual assistance when they come in the store.
      "Saturdays are our big days during prom season, and we want each girl to have someone to help them individually as they pick out their dress and accessories. In this economy, it is critical to provide that attention, and to make the shopping experience memorable. This is a big deal to mothers and daughters, and we treat it like that."
      Back to economic indicators. Marchbanks said he begins to sell prom dresses on the first business day in January.
      "If the first few days of this January are any indication at all, this is going to be an exciting prom season," he said. "Business has been brisk, and I am already amazed at the traffic we have had. We are tracking ahead of last year."
       Marchbanks senses that the attitudes of shoppers have shifted.
      "It's almost like people are tired of hearing things are bad, they are just going to enjoy life, and the rites of passage of their children. The prom is still one of the happiest days in the life of a young girl, and they have said, let's just enjoy it."
      For Marchbanks, these are promising times even though the overall economy continues to struggle.
      "There isn't a day that I feel like I am actually working," he said. "This is such complete fun. Prom dresses, the runway in the store, 20 dressing rooms full of girls trying on prom dresses. Parents and their daughters seem to be having a great time. I really try not to worry about the economy anymore, because I can only do what I do to the very best of my ability."
       Regarding next year's show, "We will either have two, or put it on in a bigger venue," he said. "I never want to have to turn away another girl from looking at her potential prom dress."
      2011 - The year of the Promdicator - I hope it is "spot on."

      So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.

      Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or email her at jmoore@statesboroherald.com

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