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Norton new owner of bridal shop

January 19, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Somewhat similar to when the student becomes the teacher, Williamsport resident Carol Norton has gone from being a customer to the owner of a Hagerstown bridal shop.

Norton's purchase of Jane Anderson Brides and Michael's Formal Wear, a store where she was a longtime customer, became official Dec. 19. Norton reopened the Hagerstown business at 11 N. Potomac St. one week later, after it had been closed for about a month.

Norton said other business owners and employees told her on the first day of business that she'd love owning a business downtown. Less than one month into her tenure, Norton said they were right.

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"I love being downtown - it's exciting," Norton said. "I can't wait for the better weather, though."

Norton bought the business from Jane Anderson, who owned the bridal shop for 18 years until retiring. Anderson originally shut down because she could not find a buyer for the business, which was started about 50 years ago by Lena Darner.

Norton, who also works as a Mary Kay sales director doing makeovers at customers' homes and businesses, said she found out about the closure after calling Anderson, a client, about making an appointment for a facial.

"I said, 'No - that can't be,'" Norton said. "Then I told my husband, 'I want to buy her business.'"

Norton said the purchase was "quick and easy," and that Anderson helped greatly in the transition.

"She was ecstatic to have someone buy the business," Norton said. "She was really hoping someone would continue it in Hagerstown."

Norton said she got to know Anderson because of her frequent trips to the bridal shop.

"I've just always known about Jane Anderson Brides - I actually shopped there years ago when I got married," Norton said.

She's not the only one in her family who has been a patron, either. Three of her children, who married within four years, went to the shop when planning their weddings.

"I walk through the store now and think, 'wow, this is mine now,'" Norton said.

Norton, a Cleveland native who grew up in Pittsburgh, originally moved to Washington County in the late 1970s. After a brief stint in South Carolina, she came back to the county.

The 1977 Penn State University graduate said she has spent most of her career working in retail management and had wanted to get involved in the wedding industry.

"I love it because I love helping people feel great about the way they look," Norton said

Now, Norton just wants to run the store in the same manner Anderson did for nearly two decades. Norton said she was pleased when Anderson's two employees, LeighAnn Hewitt and Joan Clemmons, chose to stay.

"It's a store that had such a tradition of excellence," she said. "And we will offer the same quality, high level of service and value that Jane always offered."

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