WATERTOWN — After 23 years of trying to help women find the perfect wedding, prom, or formal dress, Kathy Lettiere has decided to close a Touch of Grace on Sept. 12.
Mrs. Lettiere said she has considered shuttering her shop, 440 Coffeen St., for five years so she could spend more time with family and travel with her husband, Michael. One recent exchange with her 11-year-old grandson, Jameson, in which he was disappointed at her missing his lacrosse game stood out in her mind when she made the decision, she said.
The local retailer said she also wants to remain involved in community service, and find work in it with less hours than she spends in her store so she enjoy family time.
“Family is the most important thing,” Mrs. Lettiere said.
Touch of Grace, named in honor of Mrs. Lettiere’s late mother, Grace B. Bova, opened on May 10, 1996, her mother’s birthday, with only $1,000.
The store, however, was not always know for its dresses. Mrs. Lettiere started with selling a variety of gifts themed around angels, including ornaments, pictures, statues, candles and plates. She later began stocking First Communion dresses and veils and numerous religious articles and then, in her 11th year of business, added formal dresses.
“I’m going to miss the customers. I’m going to miss seeing the girls’ faces light up when they find that perfect dress,” she said. “I hope that people will come and get their favorite items.
While the local dress and Catholic gift retailer has many fond memories of her business, one that stood out involved providing a mother a gown to adorn her daughter, who died after a premature birth, before burying her in 2011. The gown was too big, and both of Mrs. Lettiere’s seamstresses were on vacation, so her daughter, Kristan, shrank it so it would fit.
“(My daughter) brought it back to her the next day and she was buried in it,” Mrs. Letterie said, adding that the mother sent a thank you note.
Mrs. Lettiere has begun selling her dresses at half price in preparation for her September closure.