The Dress Shop


Sally’s Dresses And Things was painted in fancy lettering on the window of the little shop. The red and yellow letters drew Bob’s attention to what until today was an empty shop on main street, the first home of Pete’s General store. Pete grew with the town of Bear Creek having to move into a much larger building so the place became empty, and stayed that way for a year. Bob who had a small ranch ten miles north of Bear Creek came to town once a month for supplies for his family.


Jill, Bob’s wife would like to look inside this shop. The fall dance would be next month and she did need a new dress. Bob made up his mind to bring her to town for a special trip, so he had to make up a reason. Jill needed to get away from the ranch, for she was a homebody, which was good, except for her riding to the neighbors to help with this or that. Bob just had to forget half of the groceries this trip so next week he would have to come back for the rest.


Jill came with Bob to Bear Creek the following week to help him pick up the grocery supplies he “forgot” the week before. The surprise on Jill’s face was worth the extra trip to town. Jill just had to see inside the little shop. Bob said you might need a new dress for the dance, go look, I’ll go get the supplies. Jill looked through the painted glass into the store, excitement in her eyes. Sally’s dress shop was the first dress shop Jill had ever seen, up till now Jill had to shop at the general store for what she needed, buying material to make her own clothes. Pete always had material to make clothes, but Sally had already made dresses too.


Jill took in all she could looking through the window. She walked through the door, her eyes got even bigger if that were possible. Dresses hung on pegs and on strings hung from the roof beams all around the room. Sally had tables loaded with dress making material for those women who wanted to make their own things. There to Jill’s surprise was a rack of ribbons, all colors of ribbons. On the back wall was a table loaded with fancy hats in round cardboard boxes. Jill was amazed with all she saw. Pete never had all these things, he had all they needed up till now, but Sally had new ideas.


The women who lived in Bear Creek never saw such things before Sally came to town. None of the towns within a hundred miles, even Austin, had anything like what Sally had in her little shop. This was 1850 after all, Texas was growing up, it has been a state for five years. Sally found women even here in the west wanted some of the finer things. Those wives living on ranches wanted a new dress once in a while, and the ones that live on larger ranches were the only ones who could travel the long distances to buy one.


Sally came from St Louis to Bear Creek to open her little shop. She brought some of the items along with her and had the rest shipped in after she found the town with a shop like she wanted. Many small towns she came through had vacant buildings but none compared to Bear Creek. The town was big enough to make enough money to live on she thought, and the people were so nice. Some of the other towns Sally looked into were nice, but others looked almost like ghosts of what they once were, towns with a past but no future. Two other towns Sally looked at were nice, but the other business owners seemed to have something about a woman owing a business in their town. Bear Creek had everything Sally wanted and more.


Jill was still full of excitement when Bob who had finished the shopping came through the door. Bob was in no hurry and Jill knew it, he planned the extra trip into town just for her, she now knew it. Jill looked and looked at the dresses, this one then that one until she found the one she liked best. Bob, who she hadn’t noticed before was standing back just watching Jill have her fun. He then said to the beaming Jill who was holding the chosen dress in front of her for him to see, why not pick a ribbon to go with it too, you deserve it.


Sally had many customers like Bob and Jill who bought the one or two items they could afford. Sally treated everyone like she wanted to be treated herself. She let the customers look to their hearts content. She helped when needed and never tried to sell more than they could afford. Sometimes Sally lowered the price just so they could have something they really wanted.


There were dresses galore, fancy and plain. Sally also made dresses from the material she sold. Some of the women wanted a special dress but it just was the wrong size. Sally made it fit or made a whole new one. In the back room of the store Sally had a table, scissors, needle and thread, which she used to make what was needed. There were even two times when Sally had to stay up most of the night to make just the right dress for that special occasion. Most of the customers however bought what they needed or ordered it to be finished the next time they came to town.


The material flowed off the shelves, the ribbon ran off the rolls, and the thread spun off the spools in the back room. Sally had a good business, and happy customers. Sally was happy, almost. She was happy with her business, customers, and town, but Sally was lonely. The orders kept her busy, that helped, but, there was still something needed.


Sally wanted to go to the fall harvest dance, she missed the spring dance when she first came to town, and did not want to miss it. She wanted to go with someone special. It was only three weeks away. She always did her own cooking, for she was a good cook, so outside of the little dress shop there was little she did except go to the bank or the general store for grocery supplies. Sally always did like Pete at the general store, because he talked so nice to her, and did not oppose her starting her own shop in town. When it was time to get some more flour and such a few days later, Sally closed her shop a little earlier for lunch and made her way to Pete’s store. Sally looked all the items over with a careful eye. Pete, she noticed before, and again now, chose the best to sell like she did. There was always a smile on Pete’s face as he helped everyone get what they wanted. Sally looked like she was busy picking through the tomatoes and vegetables until Pete finished with Mr. Brown. Pete then came over to her asking if he could help her with his ever present genuine smile. Sally said yes, yes you can. Pete helped her pick the items she needed from the display bins. The closeness felt right. Sally had heard that Pete was widowed at an early age when some bandits crossed through their little ranch one day. A stray bullet caught her hanging clothes on the line. Pete was devastated, he sold the ranch and moved to town opening the general store he has built up to what it is now.


Pete wrapped the things Sally needed and put them into her woven basket. There seemed to be more than usual. Pete said let me close for lunch and I will help you carry these things. Sally did indeed buy too much, and it was nice for Pete to offer to help carry it. On the way to Sally’s shop, where she lived in a side room, they talked as they walked. The weather, business, and the upcoming dance. Pete helped Sally put the food in the cupboards and Sally thanked him. Sally offered Pete a sandwich for lunch and being it was lunch time he accepted. Pete then found out how good a sandwich Sally could make. Again the talk found it’s way to the dance. Pete asked if she was going and with who. Sally said I want to go, but no man has asked. Sally worked so much of the time she did not know many men except for those who came in with their wives. Pete said I’d like to ask but I’m so much older and... Sally interrupted, why of course, it’s only a dance, I’d be delighted.


Pete and Sally did go to the fall harvest dance that year in Bear Creek. They did enjoy the company of each other, and did marry the next spring.




Submitted: November 16, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Tom Rosenbeck. All rights reserved.

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I wish it was a little bit longer. I enjoyed reading it.

Thu, November 17th, 2022 6:02am


Thank you for your comment glad you enjoyed reading the story

Thu, November 17th, 2022 3:59am

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