Maui store taking a bite out of prom costs
By MELISSA TANJI,
The Maui News
By MELISSA TANJI,
KIHEI - A high school prom is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and the operators of Elly's Formal Wear & Bridals are holding a contest to see it's not a major disappointment for at least a few families struggling financially, The Maui News reported today.
"In the tough times now, we want to help out the community and help out those kids, especially those going to prom. It's such a cool event. Prom night is the one everyone remembers," said Terri Ah Chin, vice president of the formalwear business in Kihei.
Although sales have fallen 30 percent at their 14-year-old business, Ah Chin and her mother, Elly Ewbank, president and owner of the shop, decided to loan tuxedos and prom dresses to selected juniors - at no charge - so they can attend their proms in style without taking a hit in their pocketbooks.
Ah Chin and Ewbank came up with the idea for a "2009 Dream Prom Contest" after they talked with students visiting their shop and learned they had little money to spend for the prom. In some cases, one or both of the students' parents had lost their jobs because of the ailing economy.
"We just felt the kids deserve to go, and that they really earned it," Ah Chin said.
In the contest, one boy and one girl from each of the junior classes at King Kekaulike, Maui, Lahainaluna and Baldwin high schools will be selected to receive a dress or tuxedo to use for the night.
The contest is competitive. To enter, students must have at least a 3.0 overall grade-point average; no suspensions or detentions for the 2008-09 school year; be a high school junior; participate in at least one club, sport or community service activity; come from a low- or middle-income family; and turn in a typed, minimum two-page, double-spaced essay about why a student deserves to be selected.
For the formalwear store to stay afloat, it is discounting items up to 80 percent, Ah Chin said. Gowns, formalwear, wedding dresses and tuxedos are not necessities, which makes them harder to sell when money is tight for consumers.
However, it's just the beginning of the wedding and prom season, and Ah Chin said she is optimistic business will improve in the next few months.
2009 DREAM PROM CONTEST
Elly's Formal Wear & Bridals in Kihei
THOSE ELIGIBLE TO ENTER:
High school juniors attending their own proms at King Kekaulike, Maui, Lahainaluna and Baldwin high schools; application and essay required; one boy and one girl from each school will receive a free loan of a tuxedo or gown
King Kekaulike, Friday; Maui High School, Feb. 13; Lahainaluna High School, Feb. 27; Baldwin High School, March 6
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO APPLY:
Students should see their junior class counselor or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.