But the recession has caught up with her, and she has been forced to close her doors, she said.
“The recession has hit us hard,” Aguila said. “It has affected the sales of the store. People are willing to wear their dresses twice. For every new event, they usually want to purchase a new dress. I feel that now they’re willing to compromise and maybe buy something less expensive.”
Families will also pull their monetary resources to buy one dress, Aguila said. Carraz Manager Imelda Ramos has worked at the store for six years — the only job she’s had in America.
“I’m so attached to this company — with the customers, with the owners, with the employees,” Ramos said.
Ramos specializes in selling formalwear to customers and advising them on the proper look. She said she had no plans for the future.
“I want to wait until the last day to close the shop,” Ramos said tearfully. “After that . . . for me, I’m still hoping. Whatever God’s plans are, I will always be there.”
Aguila also has no plans for the future. She’s still in shock, she said, and is in denial. But for now, Aguila is focusing on having a successful sale and making the most of what she has right now.
The Glendale Galleria, where she’d been for 22 years, has not given Aguila a move-out date, she said, so she will remain in business until the last dress is sold.
“When one door opens, I feel that two big doors open,” Aguila said.
Aguila first set up shop in Beverly Hills. She carried mostly European dresses alongside some of the well-known designers, such as Jovani, Sherri Hill, Sherry Couture and Tony Bowls, then switched mostly to just selling dresses from those designers. Aguila sold dresses for 10 years in the Philippines before moving to the United States in 1984. She said the best fulfillment comes from doing something that you enjoy doing most.
“Go for that, rather than going for the money,” Aguila said quietly.