Asking you to submit throwback prom photos for this issue of course brought back memories of my own Big Night.

I went to prom in the late ‘90s with my then-boyfriend of nearly two years, Dave. Truthfully, I don’t remember much about the dance but recall a lot about the events leading up to it. That’s because my mom and I had a ritual: before any school dance we’d make an evening out of shopping for my dress, which would include a grown-up dinner out as well.

These nights were very special to me: Not only were they a chance to bond with my mom, but I also enjoyed a unique shopping experience. Reveling in the excitement of the upcoming dance, I had a blast trying on dresses while being doted on by staff who truly cared. The sales associates were engaged and friendly, asking questions about my boyfriend and how he invited me to prom, and really appearing to care about the answers. They didn’t tell me a dress looked awesome if it didn’t (I wasn’t blind), but they did point out flattering styles that I might’ve overlooked. They offered refreshments, gave compliments and never, ever made me feel uncomfortable if a particular dress was out of budget. I may’ve been only 16 but I was acutely aware of how I was being treated and it made a lasting impression. So strong, in fact, that I still visit one of these stores today for accessories, shoes and outfits to other events.

Bottom line: how you treat your teenage customers now will influence them many years down the road.

As the story on pg. 62 of our July/August 2019 issue illustrates, salons excelling at the prom niche make a concentrated effort to provide bridal-level service. After all, while prom dress trends may come and go (see collage on pg. 46 of July/August 2019 for proof) excellent service never goes out of style.