By JOHN T. WARD
Mayra Perez didn’t get a barefoot-in-the-grass feeling when she bought the Barefoot Bride, then a 40-year-old business, in 2006. None of the neighboring Fair Haven merchants went out of their way to welcome her, she said.
Even after she’d settled into the wedding gown shop, Perez said, she felt isolated. “Fair Haven is just too quiet,” she tells redbankgreen.
By contrast, driving into work every morning through a relatively bustling Red Bank, Perez felt the tug of the familiar. A product of Puerto Rico and the Bronx, where “everybody helped everybody out,” Perez said she sensed her shop was in the wrong place.
With her lease on River Road ending last month, Perez leapt at the opportunity to move into the 2,000-square-foot storefront at 65 Monmouth Street, former home Rob Amend and Michael Yavorsky’s of Red Ginger Home furnishings, which relocated to Broad Street a year ago.
On day one, Teak restaurant across the street sent over cold sodas, and hairdressers from nearby salons popped in to welcome her. One merchant brought a ladder needed to install displays.
“They all came in to welcome me,” she said. The landlord, Paul Noglows, “was fabulous,” she said. “He still is.”
The move wasn’t merely a matter of getting away from Fair Haven, Perez said. Red Bank RiverCenter‘s two highly successful Wedding Walks, highlighting the plethora of dress shops, wedding photographers, catering halls and other players in the wedding industry, was a huge draw, said Perez, who’s also an event planner. She’s already working with local photographers, DJs and others from town.
The Barefoot Bride, which carries the Casablanca, Paloma Blanca, Mikaella and other brands of gowns and bridesmaid’s dresses, isn’t officially open for business. Perez is shooting to be fully dressed and ready to walk the aisle by November 11. And she’s feeling the love.
“I always felt like I belonged here,” said the Jackson resident. “The minute I came here, I knew it was right.”