23 Aug 2014
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Kay's Owners Closing With A Smile

Robert and Karina Gillette will be offering great deals until this Castro Valley bridal boutique closes on September 30. But after that where will brides go?

Kay's Owners Closing With A Smile


Robert and Karina Gillette will close Kay's Bridal Boutique on September 30, ending an 80-year-old chapter in Castro Valley's business history.

"Reviving a business in a building this large has significant costs, and Bridal is a seasonal business," Robert said. "We've had lots of success in the first six months, but it wasn't enough to meet our obligations through the Winter."

As a result Kay's, which has been around since the 1930s, will toss its final bouquet at the end of the month.

Patch asked the husband-wife team if they could keep the business going as a home-based operation, but they said wedding dress designers will only work with storefront operations.

Many Castro Valley residents will be sad to see it go.

"For years I've enjoyed their windows, always beautiful, tasteful, contemporary and done with flair," wrote Barbara Sullivan in response to an earlier Patch story about the closure. "That's the one stoplight I never, ever minded being stuck at since it gave me the opportunity to look at their display."

Norma Kvool agreed.

"It's very sad to see another Castro Valley business go," she wrote, adding, "My daughter purchased her bridal gown there and when she chose it, the third one she tried on looked like it was designed just for her."

Patch contributor Carol Parker -- who bought her first formal gown at Kay's in 1970 -- put the closure into a larger context.

Parker cited an article from a wedding industry trade website that mentioned changing social mores -- more civil unions and non-traditional relationships.

"To walk down the aisle and run to a catering facility for freezer-tasting meals for $30,000 plus is no longer the standard of today’s couples," the article said.

While disappointed that their commercial foray didn't go better, the Gillettes have other means of support.

Karina works with an environmental consulting firm. Robert has a portrait photography business, Robert Gillette Photography, and a commercial photography practice, Depth of Field Imaging.

Meanwhile the Castro Valley shop keepers will be offering real bargains on wedding dresses until the store closes.

"Everything must go," Robert said.

Where will you send brides in the future?

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