Long before Vince Delgado and his wife, Jodie, decided to go in the bridal business, they sold Christmas trees during the holidays to keep the lights on at home.
The seasonal hustle brought in extra income, but that wasn’t their passion. Their hearts belonged to their formal dress store, A Night to Remember Prom Shoppe.
“We didn’t know if it would be more than a pop-up shop at first,” Delgado recalled. “It was through prayer and faith that we took a bigger leap.”
Seven years later, the couple has moved out their small storefront on Wabash Avenue into a larger shop at 315 Sherman St. in Belleville where more 2,000 formal dresses are on the showroom floor.
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The new shop also has dedicated space for brides, grooms and tuxedos.
“Now I hope that when guys come in, they feel more at home,” Delgado said. “They’re not in a dress shop; they are actually walking into a tuxedo studio.”
For now, the bridal boutique is small, but it does offer a unique selection of gowns for brides who don’t want to break the bank.
Bridal gowns in the store range from $700 to $1,500.
What about the bridal party? The shop has bridesmaids and mother-of-the-bride dresses in another room, which was part of the expansion.
“You don’t have to look far in St. Clair County to see that there’s an absence of bridal stores,” Delgado said. “We want to help fill that void.”
Brides-to-be can make an appointment to try on dress, but if they just want to take a look their options, Delgado said they can stop in anytime.
The new shop still carries plenty of prom dresses and formal accessories. For more information, call 618-744-7370.
Former marketing consultant now runs a gym for kids
Before David Link became a part-time fitness instructor, he was a full time stay-at-home dad.
Link had previously worked as a marketing consultant for Jimmy John’s. The sandwich company kept him busy, and Link wanted to devote more time to his family.
That’s why he decided to let it all go to become a stay-at-home dad in 2016. His new focus on family also inspired him to find more ways to help children become physical fit.
If you ask, he’ll tell you that he was “husky kid.”
He fell in love with fitness and exercise later life, which is why is taking on the challenge of being the head coach of the gym at Kiddo’s Closet and Clips at 5621 Old Collinsville Road in Fairview Heights.
In class, you’ll hear him encouraging his students as they follow his instructions.
“Come on, you can do it. Nice. Let’s do it together.”
The cheering continues throughout his classes that are designed to help children improve their fine motor skills and learn teamwork.
“The smile on their faces makes it worth it,” Link said. “ Every little kids seems to hang on my every word. They love coming to class and learning a new exercise.”
Next year, Link will offer 10-week coarse for children 6 and younger.
Jessica Butcher, the owner of Kiddo’s Closet and Clips, also teaches classes at the gym that offer mommy-and-me fitness and dance classes.
Link’s 10-week-ninja climbing class ($125) will kick off its next session Jan. 8.
The gym will also offer an intro to core sports class, giving kids the chance to learn more about baseball, basketball, soccer, football and golf.
Children ages 3 and older can attend most of the classes at the gym, but older babies and early walkers are welcome, too. For more information, call 618-622-8500.
In addition to the classes, Kiddo’s Closet and Clips still offers haircuts, games and gifts.
After more than six years at St. Clair Square Mall, the children’s clothes, toys and gifts shop Kiddo’s moved out and expanded its home base on Old Collinsville Road.
The shop specializes in first-time haircuts. Kiddo’s has seen 20,000 haircuts in nine years.
The big box retail apocalypse continues
Toys R Us is considering closing at least 100 stores due to weak holiday sales, Bloomberg Business reported.
Sales in the U.S. have declined about 15 percent this Christmas-season from where they were in 2016, according to people with knowledge of the situation who spoke to Bloomberg. Up to 200 stores may be closed.
Toys R Us’s official statement, however, denies this. Spokeswoman Amy von Walter told Bloomberg that final decisions about stores will only be made after careful consideration, and any speculation on the portfolio is premature and likely inaccurate.
The company declared bankruptcy in September, but did not close any stores. It operates almost 900 stores in the U.S.
The only Toys R Us location in the metro-east is in Fairview Heights, but there are multiple in the St. Louis area.
Best burgers in the country are within driving distance
Two of the three best burgers in the United States are within pretty easy driving distance of Southern Illinois, according to Bon Appetit magazine.
The best, greasy-hands-down, burger is in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the magazine. But runners-up are “The Dirty Burg” for $16 from The Loyalist in Chicago and Dino’s Cheeseburger for $8 from Dino’s in Nashville, Tennessee.
Both restaurants are 295 miles from Belleville, according to MapQuest. Dino’s describes itself on its website as “Nashville’s Oldest Dive Bar.” The Loyalist takes reservations and has entrees like grilled duck leg with desserts like grilled mint sundae.
Previous best-burger honors went to Au Cheval in Chicago, the Tribune reports, noting that the town’s new best burger is 12 blocks west of the previous.
Do you have a tip? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, I’m available to chat on Twitter @CaraRAnthony, and if you really want to go old school, call me on my landline at 618-239-2471.
Staff writers Mary Cooley and Kara Berg contributed to this report.