Longtime Whitehall bridal shop owner retiring

July 14, 2018

Barbara Patterson stands for a photo inside her bridal shop, The White Orchid, in Whitehall on Friday, June 15, 2018. Patterson is retiring in the fall.

It’s the interaction with the bride-to-be that Barbara Patterson said she is going to miss most when she leaves The White Orchid bridal shop in Whitehall.

Patterson, 69, said she is seeking a buyer for her store. But, if one is not found, then she will close the business by fall. She doesn’t

have a specific date in mind as of yet.

“I am still active and want to enjoy my retirement,” said Patterson, who began working at the Clairton Boulevard store in 1984. She bought the business in 1995 from Lynne Maxwell who now works for her.

“I have seen a lot of brides,” said Patterson, who worked previously as a legal secretary at a Downtown Pittsburgh law firm.

Besides wedding gowns, The White Orchid sells mother-of-the-bride and prom dresses. It also offers custom work as well.

Because bridal gowns can take months to make and alter, Patterson said she stopped taking new orders. But, she said, no dress will remain in the store after she closes or sells.

“I still have seamstresses coming in to do work,” said Patterson, who does not have a definitive date for closure, or a deadline for its sale.

Most of the bridal dresses Patterson sells tend to be traditional and are ivory colored. It is rare for her to sell a white wedding dress, she said.

“I did have a groom come in once and asked for the most expensive dress I had,” Patterson said. “He said his fiancée deserved it.”

And there have been a lot of repeat customers too.

“I had a woman come in recently,” she said. “I sold her a flower girl dress, a prom gown and now her bridal gown.”

One of her best moments as a bridal shop owner came 16 years ago when she helped her daughter, Meghan, select a wedding dress.

“That was a good time,” she said. “We had a party at the store and it was a privilege to be able to help her.”

When she does leave the business, Patterson said she plans to relax and spend time with her grandson Miles Sanders, 10.

She said her husband Wayne still is working as an interior designer, but hopes they will be able to do some traveling.

“We’ll probably go to the wineries in Oregon,” she said.

“This is all bittersweet,” she said. “I am sad to see The White Orchid close, but I have worked all of my life. I am ready.”

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