Norwin student-run formal-wear sale continues today
High school students — and their parents — know how expensive it can be to attend a formal dance.
Norwin High School has a way to cut down at least some of the cost, by holding a semiannual formal wear consignment sale.
Begun in 2015, the sales are held in winter and fall, offering hundreds of new and gently used gowns, along with shoes for the gals and ties for the guys.
This fall’s sale continues from 3:30-7 p.m. today in the lobby of the auditorium at the North Huntingdon school, 251 McMahon Drive. The sale is open to the public.
The sale opened Oct. 15 with about 400 dresses available. Most are donated, and the rest are sold on consignment, with the seller receiving 65% of proceeds and 35% going to the student activity fund to help defray the price of prom tickets.
The top price of donated gowns is $100, while consignment prices — set by sellers — range up to $250, says junior class adviser Danae Brentzel-Martina.
A number of the donated gowns are brand new, with tags still attached, courtesy of area dress shops including The Exquisite Bride in Murrysville, The Prom Shoppe in Uniontown and Miller’s Prom and Formal Wear, M’Kaysha’s Bridal Lane and New Attitude Dress Salon in Greensburg.
Most of those dresses are past-season floor models that would have sold for up to $800, Brentzel-Martina says.
Learning business skills
The sale is run by the junior class, with help from seniors and sophomores.
Helping with the sale has its advantages, says senior Raegan Gouker, who spotted an iridescent maroon gown during one of last year’s sales that she wore to the school’s Sno Ball.
“I was sifting through dresses while we were getting organized,” she says. “I loved that dress, so I put it off to the side.”
Beyond just finding a way to look good on a budget, Brentzel-Martina says, participating students learn business skills. They also learn something about garment construction and fabrics.
“Even the boys get really well-versed in fabrics and styles,” she says. “Earlier today, we had a heated debate about one dress, was it tulle or chiffon.”
As far as Brentzel-Martina knows, no other school in the area offers a similar program. She says she’s recently had inquiries about the sales from the Gateway School District and from a school in Oklahoma.
Shoppers come mostly from Westmoreland County, and from as far as Apollo and McKeesport, Brentzel-Martina says. Norwin students with financial need are able to pick a gown and shoes free of charge through the student assistance fund.
“Our goal is to make prom affordable to everyone,” she says. “We want all of our students to be able to experience everything there is to experience during their high school years, including prom and all the other dances.”
Totals from the fall 2018 sale included 39 gowns sold for a profit of about $1,000. During the spring 2019 sale, 33 gowns were sold for a profit of about $1,500.
Details: 724-861-3005 or highschool.norwinsd.org
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .