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LARSON: Savvy shoppers know where to say ‘yes’

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Say “yes” to the dress! Especially if it is a prom dress from a consignment shop.

Melissa Baxter, owner of Forever Young in Lilburn, said proms are right up there with weddings and are a 4 billion dollar business. And Baxter has skillfully tapped into that business, making money for herself while saving thousands of dollars for her customers.

Baxter has always known the value of a dollar. When she was 11 years old and her brother Jason was 9, they started their own lawn service. They borrowed the $99 they needed for a push mower from their mother, who made them pay it back with interest. At 15, she worked in a thrift store.

She graduated from high school a year early and then worked her way through college. She had every intention to graduate, but at age 20, with six courses to go, she learned that Dot York, owner of Back by Popular Demand in Lilburn was selling her 22-year-old consignment boutique.

“I had exactly $5.13 in my checking account,” Baxter said, but in 2002 she managed to buy the business. Four years later, she moved up to a new location on Lawrenceville Highway with more than twice the space. In 2011 she added Forever Young, a formal wear boutique with only 10 dresses in stock.

Today, Baxter has thousands of dresses, gowns and accessories for all special occasions including designer dresses by Jovani, Sherri Hill, MacDuggal, Terani and Tony Bowls. Some gowns with original price tags more than $1,000 adorn her racks, walls and stairwell. Mannequins showcase the HI-LO and Cleopatra styles popular with many young ladies.

Name-brand shoes, including Betsy Johnson, fill the shelves. Baxter pointed out all the metallic platforms and seven-inch heels that are popular with the younger crowd. (Well, I like them, too, but only to look at.)

Tiny purses and huge earrings are among the many accessories available and the staff is always happy to help coordinate outfits.

But Forever Young doesn’t just cater to the prom crowd. Baxter carries dresses for all occasions, including homecoming, bat mitzvahs, pageants, Quinceanera, and cotillions, ballroom galas sponsored by societies such as Elite Women of Excellence.

Sharon Cobb, a regular customer, drove in from Roswell to bag up the bargains. Her daughter, Abby, is an eighth-grader at Parkview Christian School and needs dresses for four events: graduation, a pageant, an awards ceremony and a banquet. Each calls for a different couture.

“There’s a great selection and the prices are good,” Cobb said, “and I can shop online and see stuff on Facebook.”

Dresses at Forever Young sell at 40 to 70 percent off the original price and accessories are about one-fourth the original cost. Most dresses sell for under $300, with prices averaging between $125-$175.

Check out its website at www.fyconsign.com to buy a dress or cash in one you’ve already worn. Sound like a good deal? I’d say yes!

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.