FORT WORTH –– The high-end bridal boutique Ocone's on Camp Bowie is going out of business. Everything goes.
"They are remarking the dresses for sale prices right now," said John Ocone, walking past hundreds of fine dresses.
Ocone's was never a bridal bargain store. John and Barbara Ocone, now well into their 70s, built their business on Camp Bowie Boulevard with designer gowns and personal attention that required brutal hours.
"I usually finish the books at night somewhere around midnight," said John Ocone.
He says he and Barbara get up for church four days a week before opening the store. They've been dressing brides for 33 years. Some are from Fort Worth's wealthiest families.
But, really, it was about 50 years ago when Barbara Ocone starting making wedding veils so striking that Neiman Marcus gave her a contract.
"Guess who her first model was," John laughs. "Yes, it was me."
This from a man who flew fighter jets and bombers in the Air Force before going into retail.
"I love my customers," says Barbara. "Both of us love people. They mean more to us than just a buck and business." She figures they've helped about 11,000 brides.
But life has a way of lifting veils, and fitting new priorities on aging souls. A death in the family revealed a longing to refocus on family and church volunteer work.
They'll spend three days marking everything down before reopening Thursday. When the gowns are gone, it's over.
"It's a very, very sad day," said Essie Echols, one of the store's few employees.
She came to help in the shop for three days –– 25 years ago. The Ocones became her family. And for brides pondering their new families, the Ocones provided more than satin and lace.
They said they always tried to offer an example of what marriage can be.
"You got to forgive each other. You got to remember why you got married to begin with," says John Ocone.