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Pink Dairy Barn Is Unlikely Home Of Bridal Boutique

October 25, 1985

ATKINS, Iowa (AP) _ Where satin gowns now hang, calves used to huddle. You’d have found haystacks where the bridesmaids browse. And in the old days, if there’d been mirrors where brides now pose, they’d have reflected the unblinking mugs of cows.

Welcome to Hope’s Bridal Boutique, once a dairy barn, now transformed by plush remodeling, a new line of business, female occupants of a different species - and a bright pink coat of paint.

″When people drive by and see a sign that says Hope’s Bridal Boutique and it’s a barn, they just can’t believe it,″ said Carleen Kahle, who has worked at Hope’s since it opened 13 years ago.

″The most often comment is, ’Was this a real barn? Was there livestock?‴ Mrs. Kahle said.

The bridal boutique is the brainchild of Hope Kostlo, but the barn was the work of her husband, Kenny, employees and relatives recalled.

″Hope started in her house, decorating cakes,″ Mrs. Kahle said. ″Then she outgrew the house and wanted to build a building and Kenny said, ’Well, the barn’s sitting right there.‴

The barn had been vacant for about 10 years when Mrs. Kostlo began renovating to make it fit for white wedding gowns.

After several years of work, the inside of the two-story barn sported red shag carpets on the floors and white furry carpets on the walls, two mirrored stages, gilded statues, framed wedding pictures and white and red upholstered furniture.

The exterior was repainted pink, with white shutters and trim. A shimmering silver sign was hung in front.

Upwards of 500 brides each year outfit their wedding parties from the barn boutique, Mrs. Kahle said.

Joyce Domer, who manages the shop for Mrs. Kostlo, said customers from all over Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois seem to think a bridal boutique in a barn is a perfect fit.

″A lot of the bridal places, you’re in a little dingy place. Here you’ve got a lot of room,″ she said.

Mrs. Domer said ″large inventory and keeping our prices competitive″ is what attracts most customers, but she admitted it doesn’t hurt being located in a pink barn next to a corn field.

In fact, Mrs. Domer said one reason Mrs. Kostlo painted her house, barn and four other agricultural buildings pink was that ″she was getting tired of telling people where she lived.″

Now, finding Hope’s is as easy as driving west out of Cedar Rapids until the cluster of pink buildings appears, with the barn as the centerpiece.

″Women forget it’s a barn once they get inside. Inside, it doesn’t seem like a barn,″ Mrs. Kahle said.

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