The unique and exclusive Fashions in the Garden event, held Friday, August 7, 2020 by Gentry Manor, was a huge success for owners James Lizotte and Thomas Smith. The creative team held the show outdoors and designed it in a way that promoted both fun and safety.
“We were initially going to cancel the event all together, but I was getting sick and tired of being at home and this gave us a great reason to dress up,” said Smith. “It took some careful planning and I am thrilled that we pulled off a show that was entertaining, kept everyone healthy, and was everything we hoped for.”
In the past Gentry Manor has hosted events with hundreds of people in attendance, including special venues such as the Chatham Airport.
“This event was only going to be for 40 people, but after we sold out the tickets within hours of launching we added a second showing the same day. There were requests to add a third and fourth showing but that didn’t seem fair to the models. Given how well this has gone, it’s something we’ll consider doing again,” said Smith.
As part of the layout for the fashion show, tables of four people were arranged with space in between the tables to keep the groupings small and respect social distancing.
“In addition to distancing, we provided hand sanitizer, people could wear masks if they wanted, and we had a strict cleaning protocol in between the sessions. We even had a magic fairy that would go into the store for people and bring out samples of clothing in their size to limit the number of people inside. Anything we could do to provide a space that promoted a culture of safety for everyone.”
Change and adapting to the times is nothing new for Gentry Manor. Over its long 130-year history, the building has transformed from a school, to an automotive repair shop, and has been a variety of community organizations. In 1995 it was purchased by Thomas Smith and since then it has become known as a business that celebrates style, personal care, and knack for the unique.
Like many businesses impacted by the effects of COVID, Gentry Manor has had to reimagine their way of providing products, service, and care to the community. In addition to introducing new in-store safety measure and reimaging special events, Gentry Manor also has improved their website with more online shopping products and has promoted a “Take over the Manor!” option for residents. This provides a private shopping appointment or event that can be booked in advance.
Smith added, “This was a great day and while I can’t say if we’ll do it in this format again, I can promise that we’ll always continue to do things that excite us and our customers. With 40 years of experience in business, I have lots of ideas and some tricks up my sleeves.”
Learn more about Gentry Manor on their website at www.gentrymanor.com or visit them at 9 Park Street, Chatham, Ontario.
Models at the show had outfit numbers that allowed people to order from their table.
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
124 Thames Street, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8