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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Making prom season one of giving, as well
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DeWayne Grice

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Even though proms are still months away, spending for some local teens has already kicked into high gear. From purchasing designer gowns to reserving oversized limos, prom spending has risen dramatically in recent years, even during a struggling economy.

However, if last year was any indicator, we may see prom-goers continuing to rein in this out-of-control spending. Teens (and their families) spent an average of $978 on proms in 2014. That was down 14 percent from $1,139 in 2013, according to a Visa survey of more than 1,200 parents of prom-aged teens.

"(Prom spending) had been on such a ride," said Nat Sillin, Visa's head of U.S. financial education. "It could be just a realization that enough is enough."

Even with the reported drop, prom spending still remains "disproportionately high" for many families with teenage children, the survey said.

"This is a major expense in every household that has a teen," Sillin said. "It's an important opportunity for parents to talk to their teens about how to set up a budget and how to stick to a budget."

The survey also shows that while parents are still footing more than half of the bill, teens are picking up a bigger share at an average of 44 percent of prom costs. Parents who earn less than $50,000 a year spent an average of $733, compared to $1,151 for parents who make more than $50,000. Older parents also tend to be more frugal. Parents under the age of 40 spent $1,074, almost 30 percent more than parents over 40.

"As a whole, teens, today are more compassionate and socially conscious than their predecessors and in most cases than their parents," said Maria Proctor, owner of Madame Couture's Boutique downtown. "They are very pragmatic and don't bend to peer pressure and social pressure as often as teens before them."

In his book, "Fast Future," author David Burstein describes millennials' approach to social change as "pragmatic idealism," "a deep desire to make the world a better place." With this in mind and looking for a way to give prom-goers "permission" to not break the bank on prom attire, Proctor began the Fashion with Compassion Fashion show at the Averitt three years ago.

"Each year we bring downtown and local merchants together for this event to allow everyone to see the diversity of products available locally and to support a great social cause," Proctor said. "This year, we selected Fostering Bulloch, with the proceeds helping to fund the Georgia's Princess Ball, a prom-type event for foster children in our area."

Prom destination

The sold-out, standing-room-only event at the Averitt was filled with incredible energy and lots of great fashions available downtown. With three well-known dress shops, Statesboro has become a destination for prom-going teens. Proctor is the new kid on the block and is radically changing the market.

"Prom should be in reach for every teen, not just a fortunate few," she said. "With this in mind, we offer three options in our store: rentals beginning at $50, consigned dresses that include top designers like Sherri Hill and Jovani ranging from $65 to $250, and hundreds of new dresses for less than $400.

"We have over 600 dresses in stock and are taking new consignments every day. Yesterday, we had a local teen get a brand new designer dress for free thanks to her consigned Sherri Hill dress selling. That is a case where both girls win!"

Best yet, every dress a teen purchases from Madame Couture or B'Dazzled for prom, will see a portion of the proceeds donated in her name to Georgia's Princess Ball.

Janis Hope, owner of B'Dazzled, is the most tenured seller of dresses in the market, celebrating 38 years downtown. She, too, is a major supporter of the "Fashion with Compassion" movement and is excited about being part of this social cause helping deserving children in our community.

"We have nearly 3,000 dresses on the floor representing some of the top designers and hottest trends for prom this year," Hope said. "We have made a commitment to not sell any dress for more than $599. Our dresses start at $279. Nothing is more special than prom, and we want to do everything we can to make it as affordable and special as possible for every girl who walks in our door."

Compassion is something you will experience when you shop at both of these stores. They treat every girl like a princess and, between the two, offer sizes from 00 to 40.

Helping others

One beautiful teen shopper who did not want her name in print is urging her friends to follow her in cutting corners where they can and donating the rest to the Statesboro Food Bank.

"For every $1 we give will feed 10 local families," she said.

Calculating that based on what the average person spends on prom, you could feed 9,780 families. If just a few teens donated a small percentage to this cause, they could really make a difference in our community.

Teens with a heart. That warms my heart!

Like many of you, I spent a fraction of this amount on the few proms I was fortune enough to attend. We had a great time at each one and created some wonderful lifelong memories. Thanks to these compassionate downtown merchants, this year's prom season will be more magical than ever.

Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

 

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