No mice, no pumpkin, but girls go to the ball

CHATHAM–A few months ago, Julie Pietrak issued a call through Facebook for people to help her with an idea. Jenn Van Brunt and Laurie Starks Johnson answered it and soon after, Cinderella’s Closet was born. Cinderella’s Closet is a boutique on Main Street that matches teenagers with dresses and accessories for dances, completely free of cost.

The three lifelong Columbia County residents loved the idea of Cinderella’s fairy godmother enabling her to go to the ball (or the prom) with a dress, and also the environmental benefits that can be gained from reusing barely worn dresses, Mrs. Johnson told The Columbia Paper. Thanks to owners Butch and Monica Lippera’s generosity and belief in this vision, Cinderella’s Closet has a permanent residence in the Chatham House on Main Street. Mr. and Mrs. Lippera and their daughter Lea also donated clothing racks and hardware supplies. Morris Memorial Director Michele Kraham has allowed Cinderella’s Closet to use the Morris Memorial as a drop-off point for the dresses. The founders are excited by the great number of people who have been willing to donate and help out. Robin Benziger, State Trooper Captain, dropped a few dresses off. “It’s really nice to see the people who have gotten involved,” said Mrs. Johnson.

Because all of the dresses have been donated, there is no cost to shoppers. Cinderella’s Closet has already helped more than 15 girls find dresses and gotten a tuxedo for one boy–and prom season isn’t over. Mrs. Johnson said that Cinderella’s Closet is trying to renounce the “social stigma that people would assume a free dress comes with”. Cinderella’s Closet encourages parents to bring in their hesitant daughters, who are often “pleasantly surprised” at the selection. The store carries many designer labels.

Cinderella’s Closet is “not a fly-by-night”, Mrs. Johnson affirmed. The shop may need a storage place for the winter. The women would like keep the boutique open year-round, though, as they recognize that there are other dances that girls need dresses for besides the prom. In addition, “it’s not just for people who can’t afford [a dress], it’s for people who are trying to go green. It’s a way to add to their ability to help the environment,” said Mrs. Johnson.

Anyone who is interested in donating a dress or picking one out may schedule an appointment with Mrs. Johnson at (518) 965-4642.

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