81-year-old former boutique owner donates wedding dresses to flooded bridal store

Margarette Powell, a retired boutique owner, donated dresses to Allison Drake, whose newly opened store was damaged by flooding.PlayWFMY
WATCH Woman donates dresses to flooded bridal store

Margarette Powell, of High Point, North Carolina, was watching the local news last week when a story about a flooded bridal store caught her eye.

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Powell, 81, owned a boutique dress store for 12 years and she is also no stranger to flooding. She grew up in Princeville, North Carolina, a small town that is best known for its history of being hit by floods.

When Powell saw the bridal store’s owner, Allison Drake, standing in a damaged building with ruined dresses, she knew she had to help.

“When I saw her standing there holding the dresses, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I know what she’s talking about,’” Powell told ABC News. “I know what floods can do to people and my heart just went out to her.”

Powell called the local news station and asked for Drake’s contact information. She then drove the approximately 40 miles from her home to Drake’s store in Madison, North Carolina, to hand deliver eight dresses she had been saving since closing her own boutique nearly three years ago.

“I knew that somebody along the way would need a wedding gown,” Powell said of her decision to keep a selection of bridal and bridesmaid gowns after closing her store. “I said, ‘I’m packing them in boxes and I’m keeping them because someday someone will need them.’”

Drake was in desperate need of the dresses when Powell showed up at her store, Magnolias of Madison, on Saturday. The store, which Drake had just opened in March, was a near total loss after heavy rain and winds caused flooding in Madison last week.

“My dad opened the front door of the building and the water just started rushing out like a river,” Drake said of the 18 inches of rainwater that flooded her store. “I had about 30 bridal gowns in the store and I had just purchased a new line and had just received four of those new dresses.”

Drake said she was shocked by Powell’s gift to her, which totals in the thousands of dollars.

“They’re beautiful. They are incredible. Very fine dresses,” Drake said. “I just couldn’t believe anyone would do that.”

PHOTO: Bridal store owner Allison Drake, of Madison, N.C., stands next to wedding gowns donated to her store by Margarette Powell.Courtesy Allison Drake
Bridal store owner Allison Drake, of Madison, N.C., stands next to wedding gowns donated to her store by Margarette Powell.

Making the donation even more meaningful is its link to Drake’s mom, who owned a bridal boutique for more than 30 years before she passed away two years ago.

“My mother’s maiden name was Powell,” she said. “When Mrs. Powell gave me the dresses I told her, 'I’ve got to give you a hug, and one from my mom because I know she’s looking down smiling now.'”

Drake has already found a new storefront in Madison to reopen her store, where she plans to prominently display the dresses donated by Powell.

“I told her how to display them and I was telling her all the things to tell people about the dresses,” Powell said. “I said, “Call me anytime you need help,’ and I offered to come down sometime to help with her a big sale.”

Drake plans to take her new friend up on her offer.

“I’m definitely going to keep in touch,” she said. "What Mrs. Powell did is really inspiring.”

“After [the donation] I said, ‘How could I give up? What kind of message am I sending, that if you face adversity you just throw in the towel?’” I’ve got to at least try.”