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Retail Roundup: Bell tolls for secondhand wedding supply store

Heather Cunningham, owner of Wedding Warehouse in Bohemia,

Heather Cunningham, owner of Wedding Warehouse in Bohemia, says the store will close this month. Credit: Raychel Brightman

More than 1 million American weddings are expected to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year — and businesses that supply goods for the ceremonies are feeling the pain.

Wedding Warehouse in Bohemia, which sells used wedding supplies, will be closing its doors for good this month, as a result of losing business due to the pandemic, said owner Heather Cunningham, 31.

“It’s tough. It is hard to run a business pretty much alone,” she said.

Founded in 2017, Wedding Warehouse is a consignment shop that sells mostly used wedding decor and accessories, including table numbers, cake toppers, card boxes, signage, hair pieces and jewelry.

“It’s expensive to get married on Long Island, so it definitely helps a little bit for the brides to score a good deal,” she said.

Situated in 2,700 square feet of leased space at 4107 Sunrise Hwy./North Service Road, the store also sells white cocktail dresses for rehearsal dinners and engagement parties.

“Our joke is [we sell] everything but the gown,” Cunningham said.

Wedding Warehouse has not been able to stock inventory, since many weddings that would have been a source of used items have been postponed or canceled because of the pandemic, Cunningham said. Also, the number of shoppers has declined significantly, since weddings are off or delayed until next year, she said.

Plus, the store was closed for three months because of the state-mandated closings of nonessential businesses in March, part of an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Nationwide, about 675,000 U.S. weddings have been affected by the pandemic since March, according to The Knot, a wedding resource website in Bethesda, Maryland.

“A sampling of these found that the majority (93%) have postponed or not made a decision on how they’re moving forward with their reception at this time; only 7% of wedding receptions were canceled,” said The Knot, which found that more than 1 million weddings likely will be impacted by the pandemic this year.

Cunningham applied for at least 35 business grants and loans to keep her store afloat, including the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but was denied each time, she said.

She already has laid off three of her four employees. She still employs an artist who makes custom signs for weddings and creates paintings of bridal gowns.

Even after the wedding industry rebounds, Cunningham will not reopen her store, in part because of her growing family, she said.

The mother of a 1½-year-old son is due to give birth to a daughter in August.

After the store closes this month, Cunningham will focus on her Brides of Long Island brand. It started as a Facebook group in 2016, and now includes a website, bridesofli.com, that started in November.

In addition to offering wedding planning tips, the wedding resource website sells ads, and lists vendor profiles for a fee.

Cunningham declined to disclose revenue numbers for Brides of Long Island or Wedding Warehouse.

Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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