Vernon’s Nicole Nichols rubs shoulders with the show jumping world as she hosts an exhibit for Cottonwood Bridal & Formals at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary.

Cottonwood Bridal on the mend

Cottonwood Bridal & Formals recovering after High River floods.

The Spruce Meadows Masters might be better suited for bridle wear rather than bridal wear, but Vernon’s Nicole Nichols is grateful to have attended all the same.

Nichols is one of three partners operating a pair of Cottonwood Bridal & Formals stores in Vernon and High River, Alta. The latter was destroyed in the devastating June floods that swept across the southern part of the province.

As a goodwill gesture to assist the company in its recovery, Telus and Spruce Meadows Masters, which is a prominent international show jumping event, sponsored Cottonwood as an exhibitor at the event earlier this month in Calgary.

“It was a little bit of a strange atmosphere to have bridal wear there, but lots of people came in and were interested,” said Nichols, who set up her boutique inside a glass-walled pavilion on the showgrounds.

“There’s people there from all over the world. I don’t know if it’s the perfect event for us to be at, but any exposure is good exposure at this time.

“It was just to get them some exposure and show people they’re still around and that they didn’t go down with the water.

“Being a former rider myself, it was pretty cool just being there.”

This year’s floods are the worst in Alberta’s history, and High River, which is nestled beside the Highwood River, was one of the worst hit.

A total of 32 states of local emergency were declared and 28 emergency operations centres were activated as water levels rose and numerous communities were placed under evacuation orders.

Four people were confirmed dead as a direct result of the flooding and more than 100,000 people were displaced throughout the region.

Like many businesses in the town, Cottonwood Bridal lost its storefront, and much of its inventory. The company specializes in wedding dresses, formal wear and business wear, as well as tuxedo rentals.

“It happened on a Sunday and they literally had 15 minutes and the water was up to their tires,” said Nichols. “It was definitely a flash flood.

“The only thing they were able to save were the wedding gowns ordered by clients.”

The High River store was taken over by Nichols’ partners in 2009, and she has been operating the Vernon location (2904-B 32nd Street), across from the Century 21 building, for a year.

With the High River store closed for the past three months, Nichols said it has been a challenge to keep things running smoothly.

“I’m the only store running right now. They were trying to run it out of one of the girl’s houses, but you can imagine what that’s like, with people coming and going and phone calls.

“There were a lot of forwarding calls to me from clients and brides-to-be, wondering when the store’s opening. It’s been tricky.”

However, the High River location has moved into a new temporary structure and is in the midst of a grand re-opening celebration. Nichols said the Vernon store is also having a sale until Sept. 28 to help the promotion.


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