Livonia church sells dresses worth hundreds for just $20. Here's why. – Hometown Life

LIVONIA — The basement of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church holds one of the best hacks in dress shopping.
The church, 27475 Five Mile Road, has run a discount dress shop for nearly nine years. Women and girls shopping for school dances, quinceaneras, parties and even weddings come to browse the church’s collection of brand new dresses and ballgowns.
The best part? Everything is just $20.
Pam Phillips, who runs the shop, said her daughter came up with the idea after seeing a similar ministry at another church. The store started as an annual event for prom, but high demand prompted Phillips to run the store year-round.
“We used to do it just once a year, and we would have people line up at 6 a.m.,” she said. “For several years we had a father at the door because one of his girls was going to prom. We have families come back.”
Everything in the store is donated by local dress shops and comes unused. Elizabeth Bridal Manor of Northville, Bridal Couture of Plymouth, Bella Mia of Plymouth are among some of the store’s donors.
All proceeds are donated to charities like Forgotten Harvest, World Kitchen, the Cass Corridor Community Tiny House Project and more. Last year, the church donated $12,000 from dress sales and its annual average is between $8,000 and $9,000.
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“They have been donating for years because they know it goes to a good cause,” Phillips said of the local shops.
Phillips said people are grateful for the extreme discounts — dresses range in worth between $200 and over $800 — and volunteers enjoy helping women find something they feel beautiful in. People who cannot afford the $20 fee are given their dress for free.
“If they look good in it, I tell them, especially with teens,” volunteer Charlotte Day said.
The store helps people in need, but also serves as a way for people to save money. Phillips noted the dresses worn to events like weddings and proms are typically used just once, so shoppers enjoy keeping a few hundred dollars in their pockets.
“We had a young lady come in here for prom,” Phillips said. “She was beautiful and put this blue dress on. I told her that she didn’t have to tell anybody she paid $20 for that dress. She says, ‘Are you kidding? I’m going to tell everybody.’ She used the money she saved to help pay for college.”
No matter the event, Phillips and Day said women will leave their church with a dress they feel great in without having to worry about the price tag.
“We get people from all walks of life,” Day said. “Every single person who comes in here is beautiful.”
Shoppers can make an appointment to visit the store by emailing Phillips at
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Contact reporter Shelby Tankersley at or 248-305-0448.