Owner, Amore Bridal

There’s a painting of a woman in Terry Barnes’ shop that features a quote she’s adopted as her business motto. It reads: “Enter as Strangers. Leave as Friends.”

Barnes strives to achieve that with each customer at Amore Bridal, her full-service bridal shop. The business specializes in prom and homecoming dresses, bridal gowns, rentable tuxedos for men and female accessories, including shoes.

Barnes also offers wedding planning.

 MORE ABOUT BARNES

      ♦ HOMETOWN Dover

      ♦ EDUCATION Dover High School; Wilmington University, bachelor’s in business management

      ♦ HOBBIES Sitting on the beach

Amore Bridal was founded in 2011. She relocated to her most recent location last October, to drive more traffic, Barnes said. The shop is at 9 S. Dupont Highway in Dover. It was first off U.S. Route 13 south of Camden, then on West Loockerman Street.

Q Why did you decide to open a business in Kent County?

A There was a great need for a very elegant bridal shop to give brides that special moment.

Q What makes your shop unique?

A Our customer service, and the statement right there [hanging on the wall]: “Enter as Strangers. Leave as Friends.” My whole thing is it becomes a friendship, because you’re working with a bride from six to eight months before her wedding, and you get to know the family members and the bridesmaids.

Q What’s one of your greatest challenges?

A I think the biggest one is people shopping online. People come in and they’ll try on my gowns and then they’ll turn around and order something they saw online similar to it or that’s a [knockoff] with one of my designer names on the dress. And some websites say we can provide you with the gown for $200, compared to a gown in my shop that sells for $1,100. But that, to me, should be a clue to the person that there’s something [fishy] here. That’s one of my biggest challenges, trying to convince people that those gowns you see online are not the [real] gowns. It’s impossible to buy a gown for $200.

Q How do you try to overcome that obstacle?

A I can pick up on when somebody is looking to order online, just because they’re noncommittal and will say, “I’m not sure yet. I don’t know what date I’m getting married yet.” They don’t want to give any information out. So I’ll come right out and ask, “Are you thinking about ordering online?” If they are, I just try to talk them through not doing it.

Q What impact has relocating to South Dupont had on your business?

A It’s kind of difficult to tell right away. I have seen a change already with people that didn’t know I existed, who’ve found me, and that’s exactly what I thought needed: some exposure.

Q What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

A You have to be friendly, flexible and willing to work with people, especially now in this economy where people say, “I want that gown, but I can’t pay for it in full today. Will you work with me on payments?”