Family-run bridalwear shop closes down after 23 years

Karen Forte, owner of Karen Forte Bride and Occasional Wear in Bassingbourn, is retiring after 23 years

Karen Forte, owner of Karen Forte Bride and Occasional Wear in Bassingbourn, is retiring after 23 years - Credit: Jude Sallis

A family-run bridal shop in Bassingbourn is closing its doors for the final time after providing wedding dresses for more than 1,000 brides.

Karen Forte Bride and Occasional Wear was started by Karen Forte from a small shop in Bassingbourn High Street in 1999, before moving to the current larger premises on the outskirts of the village in 2004.

Karen ran the business alongside her late husband Chris, and in more recent years her daughters Charlie and Willow have both taken the helm.

Following 23 years in business, Karen is now closing up shop and looking forward to a well-earned retirement.

She said: “Independent shops hold a very special role within a community.

"There is a face behind the name; a story behind the business. A successful business gives pride to the community and with their support it flourishes."

The bridal shop held fashion shows at venues including The Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey and Napp Pharmaceuticals, raising more than £20,000 for charity.

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Karen also worked closely with local schools including Bassingbourn Village College, Meridian School (now King James Academy), Melbourn Village College and more, to help raise funds for their Year 11 proms.

She said: "It was always a special moment when a previous prom customer returned years later to buy her wedding dress."

Karen wants to encourage other independent business owners to pursue their dreams, saying: "For those contemplating starting a new venture, retail can be very rewarding.

"Being your own boss has many advantages as well as challenges. The desire to succeed is crucial and is your driving force.

"Success is quantified in many ways and they are not necessarily all monetary. So if you are contemplating taking that step, do it.

"The places I have been, the things I have done, and the independence I have gained are immeasurable. I had poor health and no wealth at my starting point but it did not stop me and I have had a ball."

Over the next few months the shop will have a gradual closing down period, with all stock reduced to half price. It will continue trading on an appointment-only basis while stock is sold.