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Anderson's bridal shop to close

November 23, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

What many people look forward to upon retiring is doing nothing, playing golf, or spending time with grandchildren.

Jane Anderson just wants a good night's rest.

Anderson, who has owned a downtown bridal shop for 18 years, has announced her retirement because she can no longer put off surgery to alleviate her sleep apnea.

"I've just reached the point I really need to do it," said Anderson, who will close Jane Anderson Brides and Michael's Formalwear at 11 N. Potomac St. at the end of the work day on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep, either because the airway is blocked and/or the brain fails to signal muscles to breathe, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association's Web site at www.sleepapnea.org.

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The brain alerts people to resume breathing, but the disorder results in fragmented or poor quality of sleep, the site states.

The site states that more than 12 million U.S. citizens have sleep apnea, according to the National Institutes of Health.

If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency and headaches, according to the association.

Anderson, 49, said she realized something was wrong seven years ago and was diagnosed as having sleep apnea two years later. She had fainted and fallen on her jaw 22 years ago, damaging her jaw enough to eventually begin disturbing her sleep.

Anderson said she tried to sell the business, but had no takers. There are some interested parties, so it's possible someone could buy the business, but now gown after gown is adorned with a red and white sale tag as she prepares to go out of business.

Retirement was the only option because the recovery period following her jaw surgery will be at least two to six months, during which time she will wear a brace on her jaw.

The brace would have prevented her from communicating with her customers and running her shop properly, Anderson said.

"It's hard to let go when you do this kind of stuff and you meet people," Anderson said.

Meeting people was one of the reasons Anderson bought the bridal business in 1985 after moving to the area three years earlier. The bridal business was started by the late Lena Darner about 50 years ago. The bridal part of the business changed hands a few times before Anderson bought it.

"Now I can't go anywhere, which is great, without running into someone from the store," said Anderson. She and her husband, Michael, live in Hagerstown.

Anderson said her customers, past and present, have been sweet and understanding. Some called to check on her when they heard she was closing the shop, she said.

Once her recovery is complete, Anderson said she may go back to school - she has a bachelor's degree in microbiology - or return to her previous career in quality control. She worked for Clorox in Atlanta and then Frederick, Md. The company is now in Aberdeen, Md.

Anderson said she might run for public office because she wants to serve her community and help the economy.

She said she has seen much of the bridal industry move overseas. While the result is cheaper prices for customers, the country is losing jobs and that is happening in far too many industries, she said.

Then there is actual retirement, but Anderson said she doubts that will happen because she's not one to remain idle.

Anderson said she will miss her employees, her clients - or girls as she calls them - and the creative aspect of her job.

"It's just a lot of fun to find their look and to find the perfect veil," Anderson said.

She often knows her customers long before they come in looking for gowns because they have been in the shop before with someone else looking for a gown or shopped for evening wear for the prom.

"Prom is lots of fun," Anderson said.

The young girls shopping for dresses provide Anderson with a diversion from the seriousness of the brides preparing for their big day.

Thanks to former employee Nancy DuBois, the shop started a fairy godmother for prom girls program more than a decade ago, Anderson said. If there was a girl or girls who needed help affording the gown, alterations and accessories, DuBois and the shop helped with the cost, Anderson said.

Over the years Anderson has seen some interesting trends.

At least one bride asked if she could dye the wedding dress red, Anderson said. Now there are red dresses.

She carries wedding gowns that are white, ivory or pastel colors, but does not keep in stock dresses with strong, dramatic colors.

Anderson said she worries women will look at their wedding pictures years later and wonder what they were thinking.

The emotions, up and down, that go with the job are the hardest part, she said.

One bride told her the wedding had been called off before informing her mother, Anderson said.

"We get sworn to secrecy a lot," she said.

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