A Bridal Boutique opens


Jeanel Coullias, left, and Andrea Stivender are the mother-daughter co-owners of A Bridal Boutique, which is now open in Creekside Mall on SW 2nd Avenue in the former location of Jay's Bridal, which closed last year.

MATT STAMEY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.

After nearly 40 years in the bridal industry, Jeanel Coullias opened her first dress shop with daughter Andrea Stivender in the former Jay's Bridal.

A Bridal Boutique opened in November at 3501 SW Second Ave., across the Creekside Mall courtyard from their other business, The Grande Event, which provides event planning and rentals for weddings, corporate events and other parties. They held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.

They opened The Grande Event three years ago and benefited from the proximity to Jay's Bridal.

"The girls would purchase their dresses and then come across the courtyard to plan their receptions," Coullias said.

Business went down when Jay's closed in August 2012 after 77 years, citing the poor economy and competition from a big-box bridal shop and online vendors.

Stivender said A Bridal Boutique has not faced the same problems. She said they carry dress lines that are not available online or from David's Bridal, the big-box store.

"The brides are budget-conscious, but they've saved and they want to have the wedding that they want," Stivender said.

Designers include Justin Alexander, Enzoani, Allure, Casablanca and Kathy Ireland. In addition to dresses for brides and bridal parties, the shop includes dresses for proms and other special events, as well as tuxedo rentals.

"We have 15 girls in there right now trying on prom dresses," Coullias said on Monday afternoon.

Coullias started in the industry as a caterer and floral arranger and at one time owned Jeanel's Florist. She and Stivender owned and operated the Savannah Grande event venue and catering operation from 1997 to 2009.

Bus/limo companies

Gainesville charter bus company A Candies Coachworks has purchased the charter business of Branford company Fabulous Coach Lines.

A Candies goes from 10 to 15 buses and plans to hire 10 to 15 of the more than 50 Fabulous employees, CEO Sander Kaplan said. A Candies currently has 30 employees.

A Candies will fulfill Fabulous Coach's existing charters.

Kaplan, 48, founded A Candies Limousine in 1986 and A Candies Coachworks in 2006. He said he also bought a stretch limo and a Lincoln sedan from Fabulous Coach.

Ray Land, 25, founded Fabulous Coach in 2004 at age 17. Since then, his company has served 2 million passengers over 4 million miles, according to a news release. Fabulous Coach has other motorcoaches that will be sold to other operators.

Land is keeping the casino bus service lines that run between Valdosta, Ga., and Tampa and from North Florida to Biloxi, Miss. He is also co-founder and chief financial officer of Totuit, a transportation app business with an office in the University of Florida Innovation Hub, and he has a keynote speaking business.

Kaplan started as a mobile disc jockey. He got into the limousine business at age 21 after a bride asked him to find a limo for a wedding he was working. The two limos in town were booked, so he decided to purchase one.

He got into the charter coach business in 2006 to provide a local option for UF athletics, which provides the bulk of his business.

"We've had positive-growth sales every year," he said. "There was a vacuum here."

Kaplan said he was the driver when Land hired a limo for his high school prom. He later called Land for advice on getting into the motorcoach business and said they shared referrals.

A Candies recently opened a St. Augustine office to serve the northeast coast of Florida.

Starke Domino's

Gator Domino's has added its first location outside Alachua County by purchasing the Starke store.

That gives the pizza franchise 10 locations.

Owner Freddie Wehbe said the location is a good fit since many people who live in Bradford County work in Gainesville. He said Gator Domino's has had 60 to 70 communications from customers there. Many said the Starke store did not accept the same coupons, which Wehbe said is because it is considered part of the Jacksonville market.

"They know our brand, that our offers are better, our deals, our community involvement," he said. "What they saw here does not match what they saw there. The store was not gaining any ground."

Wehbe said the pizza business is improving since the price of cheese, their biggest cost, has been going down, almost 36 cents a pound over the last five weeks.

Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor.

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