WATERTOWN — Sisters Katie Shoeneman and Lindsay Bova appreciated the extra care they received when they picked out their wedding dresses from A Touch of Grace dress shop during the past year.

With the shop where they found their wedding dresses closing, the sisters want to provide the same service for other prospective brides.

Depending on getting bank financing, they plan to open a bridal and formal wear shop in the former Square Lion antique, jewelry and coin shop at 101 Public Square.

One of Public Square’s most crucial storefronts became vacant in November, leaving a gap in the downtown landscape.

“It’s an amazing location with everything going on downtown,” Ms. Shoeneman said. “We’re really excited about the location.”

She got married last June in the gazebo in Sackets Harbor. Her sister got hitched during a small family wedding and will have a more formal event next July.

They always hoped to open a business together and when A Touch of Grace announced it was closing in July, the sisters thought it was fitting to open a bridal shop.

Especially on the heels of their marriages. Her sister will help manage the shop.

The former Public Square antique shop just suited what they were looking for, she said.

One side of the 4,500-square-foot storefront will be for the bridal shop, while the other will offer tuxedos and other formal wear. The shop will employ one part-time and two full-time workers.

On Thursday, the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, approved a $40,000 microloan with 3 percent interest to Ms. Shoeneman for renovations, equipment and inventory for the business.

She also hopes to receive a $120,000 bank loan.

“The project looks good,” said Donald W. Rutherford, CEO for the Watertown Trust. “You can tell she’s a business person.”

A 2005 graduate of Indian River High School, Ms. Shoeneman has a background in consumer research and marketing, previously working at Car-Freshner here in Watertown and at Fisher Price near Buffalo.

She also lived in Manhattan and Los Angeles before returning to the north country a couple of years ago.

With the old Square Lion filling up, Mr. Rutherford said there’s not a lot of prime commercial space remaining on Public Square.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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