Andrea Alcorn wasted no time quenching her thirst for entrepreneurship.
She responded to the call at the age of 23, opening Gracie’s Bridal in downtown Springfield “to bring new fashion lines and a fresh approach to the bridal and special-occasion market,” she says.
Armed with a degree in business administration from University of Missouri-Columbia, she returned home in 2005 with a dream and a vision.
“I always wanted to own a bridal boutique, so when I graduated from college, I knew this was the path for me,” she says.
Then the dirty work began: crafting the business plan, raising capital, negotiating leases and even managing her store’s construction infill at Wilhoit Plaza, 431 S. Jefferson Ave., Ste. 116, which was a strategic location.
“I was involved in every aspect of this startup,” Alcorn says. “I felt strongly that this area, once redeveloped, would also be a fresh and lively alternative to the megastore mindset. I customize the experience to each shopper.”
The inherent risks of startups and banking on redevelopment aside, the recession nearly brought retail to a screeching halt just a couple of years after Alcorn opened Gracie’s Bridal.
“I can’t say it’s been the easiest thing I have ever done. I must have missed the business classes in college where they teach you how to survive a recession,” she jokes. “Now, I can say I have experienced it, and if there is ever a recession again in my lifetime, I will be prepared. I think there is a lot of truth to the saying that business owners get the most creative in rough times.”
And she makes a point to share her on-the-job knowledge.
Alcorn has taken students under her wing at the store, showing them the ropes of running a retail shop and the back-end operations, including purchasing inventory for which she and her buying team frequent the Chicago Bridal Market. Gracie’s Bridal has won two silver sales awards from gown manufacturer Casablanca Bridal.
Alcorn juggles her time serving as event coordinator for Trolley’s Bar and Grille, but she still finds ways to give back to the community, including several leadership roles with Junior League of Springfield.
She has served as a committee member of Isabel’s House Charity Ball fundraiser and as chairwoman of the JLS Pitter Pat race.
Beyond Junior League, Alcorn also has hosted a fashion show to benefit Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.[[In-content Ad]]
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.