Gazillion Dresses? I stopped counting at a bazillion. With dresses for everyone from age 2-99 and styles ranging from prom to retro to bohemian, owner Inga Hartmann has created with her State Street boutique what she calls “a candy shop for girls.”
Hartmann moved from Ukraine to New York, where she was a buyer, personal shopper, and clothing store owner. After moving to California with her husband, opening a chain of stores, and having to close them all due to the economic downturn, Hartmann was unsure if she would open another store again. However, when her husband suggested she open a store of all dresses, she came around.
“Because it’s all dresses, it makes it different from all other boutiques,” Hartmann said of her store, which opened in February 2015. “People are just really happy when they come in.” And their wide variety of colorful prints and sizes allows the store to attract a diverse clientele. “A college-aged girl and her mom can come in and find something,” said Hartmann.
As an independent store owner, Hartmann values the opportunity to actively contribute to the community. She helps out victims of domestic violence and struggling single moms, provides military discounts, and is exploring potential prom dress donations for families in need.
“The people who do know about us have fully embraced us, and we just want to give back,” Hartmann said.
That sense of caring and community is evident in their personalized customer service and in the way Hartmann and her employees treat one another. “You can’t run a business without great staff, and they are really dedicated and just help me so much. They amaze me every day,” Hartmann said.
As I pack up to leave and gather my friend, who is twirling in a bright blue dress and laughing with an attentive associate, the sweetness of Hartmann’s “candy shop” rings true.
Gazillion Dresses is located at 933 State Street. Call (805) 845-1233 or visit gazilliondresses.com.