POCOMOKE CITY — A car crash changes life for all those involved in an instant.
For one Pocomoke City landmark, it was another reason to change again.
In 2006, police were pursuing a drunken driver when he missed a turn and crashed into Scher’s Bridal Shop.
At the time, Scher’s sold wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses in one half of the store and children’s shoes in the other. After years of debating, Marc Scher realized after this crash it was time to finally close up shop on the shoe business and continue growing as a dress store.
“It was something we wanted to do but it was like the minute we said, ‘Why don’t we do something with the children’s store?’ a good customer would come in, and we’d say, ‘Well, let’s hold onto it,’ ” Scher said. “But when the car crash happened, it made up our mind.”
For the last 80 years, people from as far as Baltimore have made the trek to Pocomoke to visit one of downtown’s most recognizable businesses at the corner of Market Street and Clarke Avenue.
Opening its doors in 1933, Scher’s Bridal Shop has been a staple of the Pocomoke community and is a prime example for showing how a small family-owned business can sustain itself.
Now on its third generation of owners, Scher’s has seen some changes since its grand opening just under four years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
When the store first opened, it was a family department store. But eventually it was changed to just a ladies and children store.
After Marc’s grandfather, Philip Scher, passed away, his grandmother, Rose, and his uncle continued to run the store until his father, Irvin Scher, returned from World War II.
In the early 1970s, Marc’s father and mother, Doris, bought out the Sherwin Williams located in the storefront next to theirs and placed the children’s clothing store in it. The original half of the store was still ladies clothing with the bridal section in the second floor balcony that overlooked the floor.
In the early 1980s, Marc began a shoe store across the street. After Irvin passed, he came over to help his mother run the shop.
Left with no more room to continue doing the bridal shop upstairs, and after the retirement of his mother, Marc and his wife, Judi, had a decision to make: either open a new store or turn it strictly into a bridal store. They chose the latter and have continued to grow a business that has survived through the meat of the Great Depression and stock market collapses in 1987 and 2008.
‘People come downtown for a reason’
Having seen how new roads and malls had affected the downtown area of Pocomoke, Marc said the stores that now maintain locations in downtown have to mean something.
“Basically every store downtown is a destination, people come here for a reason,” he said. “It’s a quaint downtown, but it’s not like it used to be.”
Cathy Weichmann has been working at Scher’s for more than 20 years.
“(Marc and Judi’s) middle child and my oldest child are the same age so they went to school together,” she said. “Marc kind of put the word out that if I needed a job to look him up and one day I looked him up to find something to do and I’ve been here ever since.”
Weichmann focuses more on the bridal side of the store and said the experience over the years has turned her into an amateur therapist.
“I had one bride where it was a tough day for her and she was really stressing and she went into the dressing room and she started to cry,” Weichmann explained.
“I was like, ‘Please don’t cry because I’m going to cry,’ and you just kind of talk them through it and get them settled down a little bit.”
Out of all of her years working at Scher’s, Weichmann said there is one area of her personality that has greatly changed since starting at the store.
“You become a people person — you can’t judge a person that walks into the door,” she said. “Somebody that looks like they just came off the street may be worth millions. You treat everybody the same because they deserve that and that’s one thing I’ve learned to be, more conscious of everybody.”
Everyone who works at the store said they do it for one reason: that’s to see the customer walk out of the shops’ doors happy and become a part of 80 years of history.
“I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up and I have a special feeling for these people,” Judi said. “I really feel like I’ve been a part of their lives and I really hope I’ve had a positive impact in some way.”
“The only thing I have to do is make people happy and I’m good at that,” Marc said. “At the end of the day that customer has to be happy whether it’s the bride, the mother of the bride, the bridesmaid, and that’s what we’re good at. Just seeing the happy brides and when they come back with pictures, it’s nice to see the finished product.”
Cathy said she is starting to see kids who she was fitting for shoes yesterday now coming in to get ready for prom and sometimes their weddings.
After starting across the street from his father roughly 30 years ago and seeing so much change in the city and the store, Marc still hasn’t changed how he feels every day he steps through the double glass doors and into the store his grandfather started 80 years ago.
“To be able to walk through the same door that my father and my grandfather did, you know not a lot of people can’t say that and that means a lot to me,” he said.