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And while this might seem like another instance of baiting those “from away” into free advertising, that wedding dress thing? It’s not just a gimmick. “People believe if we carry [dresses] they must not be a nice variety, but when they come they’re very pleasantly surprised,” says Kristen Ballantyne, who manages the clothing department at Hussey’s. Before Kristen was a Ballantyne she was a Hussey (pronounced with a zz), and she grew up working in the store. Her great-grandparents started the business on a site adjacent to its current location in 1923, back when transportation made it difficult to get to major cities. “It started out very small, as just a mishmash of basic things,” Ballantyne explains, “and then — as it began to get more and more popular — they just kept adding on.” In 1954, the Husseys realized they were going to need a bigger space. Around the same time, Ballantyne’s great grandmother started offering women’s apparel — including formalwear — which now includes the bridal, bridesmaid, and mother-of-the-bride dresses the store offers. “There was no other place in Central Maine, really,” she says. Some of the designers she carries, such as Sweetheart Gowns and Alfred Angelo, also have small, family-business origin stories. To get to Hussey’s bridal boutique one walks past the gas pumps outside, the bags of compost for sale, and the shelves of groceries and Maine-themed gifts on the first floor.
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