By Chris Marchand
The latest in the wave of women entrepreneurs in Dryden’s downtown, Pat Pearson’s First Impression brings a larger city shopping experience to a much smaller city.
An artist and jewellery maker, Pearson says the concept for the store emerged from her early involvement with the Naked North Gallery and ambitions to get her work and select pieces from other local artists into a downtown retail setting.
“I just wanted my own,” said Pearson. “It was time to move on from the gallery. I wanted a little more control over what we’re displaying and marketing.”
Pieces from local artisans Jeannie Cutts, Anne Sicilano, Leanne Corbin and potter Lynne Wood fall seamlessly into place among an interesting mix of home decor, footwear and other items.
A multifaceted operation, just off the retail area is Pearson’s own enclosed custom jewellery workshop space, an important component of the store’s bridal gallery — a glassed off room featuring wedding fashions from current sought-after designers. In her work with many local brides designing custom wedding jewellery, Pearson says she identified a common frustration — a difficulty in scheduling group functions around the ritual of selecting and fitting a wedding dress, something typically done in the city.
“They were constantly having difficulties lining everyone’s schedules up to go in and out of the city with their dresses,” said Pearson. “I thought I’d do the dresses and move one step further — offering a big city feel where the groups come in. The bride can model her choices and the family can enjoy complimentary champagne. From there we can make her jewellery, bridesmaid dresses, gift registry — whatever size of package she wants.”
Offering such exclusive engagements in the evening when it is easier to get people together, Pearson says she’s obtained a special event permit to be able to serve champagne.
She says the gallery will also cater to young ladies seeking prom dresses.
Pearson says she hopes the idea appeals to bridal consumers in surrounding communities, generating some tourism for the city.
“Hopefully, it’s going to bring in people from Fort Frances, Red Lake and Ear Falls. Sometimes they’ll get a room and stay overnight. They have to eat and they have to do a lot of other things while they’re here shopping for their dress. It’s good for the whole community,” she said. “It’s been really positive so far in terms of out of town people showing an interest.”
Pearson says starting her retail career at this point in her life has been an exciting journey for herself and her husband.
“It started as a joke,” she said. “We’re retired, my husband and I. He did the first 35 years and I said I’ll do the next 35 years. He’s staying home and I’m back in the workforce. I’ve always wanted my own. You always think, ‘oh, maybe someday’. Then one day you wake up and you’re 60. So, why not?”