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Posted on Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

New discounted bridal shop in downtown Ann Arbor benefits the cancer group

By Lizzy Alfs

A new volunteer-based bridal salon, The Brides' Project, opened in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday with a mission to raise money for a local cancer support organization.

The Brides’ Project, which is located in a donated space at 208 W. Liberty St. and run by an organization called Cancer Support Community of Ann Arbor, sells a selection of discounted used or new wedding dresses that have been donated.


From left: The Brides' Project designer and brander Kellie Bambach, executive director of the Cancer Support Community Barb Hiltz, marketing co-chair Ashley Edwards, and The Brides' Project co-chair Monique Sluymers stand with wedding gowns inside their space on West Liberty Street.

Angela Cesere |

All proceeds go towards the Cancer Support Community, which provides support groups, healthy lifestyle classes, education and resources for anyone touched by cancer.

Mark Hodesh, owner of Ann Arbor’s Downtown Home and Garden, donated free space in his building on West Liberty Street to The Brides’ Project. The rest of the building is used as a kitchen for the food vendors that operate at Hodesh's Mark’s Carts.

Monique Sluymers, co-chair of The Brides’ Project, said the idea for the salon came from a similar project by the same name in Toronto that was founded by Helen Sweet in 2005.

“I thought this looked like a great idea,” she said. “It’s a great alternative to the traditional wedding in that these are recycled dresses. So it appealed to me from an environmental aspect, but also the fact that all the money goes to cancer support.”

Sluymers said she thought Ann Arbor would be a perfect place to spearhead a project of this type, so she contacted Barb Hiltz, executive director of the Cancer Support Community, to form a partnership.

“This has been such a collaboration, and I think that’s what Ann Arbor is all about,” Sluymers said. “Plus, I thought Ann Arbor brides would love the idea of getting a dress than means more than just a dress on any other shelf.”

Hiltz said The Brides’ Project salon, which will be open by appointment-only Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, has received about 150 dresses in a variety of sizes and styles.

“These dresses are coming in from all over the United States,” Sluymers said. “Brides are deciding to donate their dresses and give to the organization rather than having them sit in the closet.”

Hiltz said the dresses are priced anywhere from $50 to $1,250, and the salon has several designer gowns.

Volunteers will run the salon, and Sluymers said The Brides’ Project leadership team has already trained 35 people.

Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden, said he decided to donate space to The Brides’ Project because it seemed like it was something that fit with the Ann Arbor community.

“I thought this project was nice and I felt like we could have an impact on local families,” he said. “I also liked their idea of offering people an opportunity to buy previously used wedding dresses. This makes all the sense in the world.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

How does one donate a dress?, seems like you need to add more information for those of us who would like to donate!


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

No problem, eom. I've been trying to figure out what to do with my gown for quite some time. My girls don't want it, and they wouldn't fit in it ever. (I'm 5'1" and they're already taller than me) So happy that someone will benefit from my once-loved gown! :D


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Thanks A2Woman...glad you could tell me what to do since dropped that ball.


Sun, Sep 18, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.

Email, or call 734-418-3332 today for more information on how to donate your dress. Your donation is tax-deductible. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Molly resnik

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I just stopped in. There are so many great gowns , from size 2 to 22 and so many different styles. What a fabulous store. One of the Liberty Street window at Selo-Shevel has several of the gowns on display. Thank you, Elaine Selo-another great Ann Arborite!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Mark for Mayor!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Great idea; donated space, and all proceeds go to cancer support. IMO, perfect place to donate a wedding gown from marriage that went awry...get rid of that unnecessary reminder in the closet!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

I'm glad Mark Hodesh is a part of this community.