MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Choosing a gown or a suit for the prom should be an exciting task for a high school senior. Unfortunately for some students and parents, the cost fills the experience with more anxiety than anticipation. This is where the Pop-Up Prom Shop comes in. 

Clothing, shoes, and accessories are donated and “a beautiful boutique is created, located in the high school,” said Lisa Stamm of Maplewood, one of the event's volunteer organizers. It’s grown in its first three years and for its fourth year will be bigger than ever. “It’s the community coming together and lifting each other up,” she noted. Getting a dress for free in a dignified environment “is one less stress that a parent or kid could have” among all the extra expenses which happen during senior year.

Cougar Cares is the sponsoring organization. They provide financial support related to senior prom, graduation, and Midnight Madness at Columbia High School. The Prom Shop was founded in 2017 “so that no one is left out,” Stamm said.  “Last year we gave away over 250 dresses and suits.”

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The event is also “promoting sustainability” by recycling dresses that might have never been worn again. Not only are dresses and heels needed, but suits, ties, and men’s dress shoes. “We also have a jewelry section, which the kids went crazy for” last year, Stamm said. Costume chains and earrings were a big hit in the past. “We want the kids to be excited” while they shop. “It’s a really well curated” collection of clothes and accessories for the students. “They’re pretty savvy and they want to look good.”

For women’s wear, donations are sought of “mainly long dresses. All the senior girls wear long dresses. The short dresses are for the juniors.” For men's wear, suits, shoes, dress socks, long ties and bow ties, and belts would be appreciated. New, unopened cosmetics and hair accessories are also accepted.

Donations are being accepted at Gleason’s Cleaners on Parker Ave., Buy-Rite on Valley Rd., and Sadie’s on Valley Rd. Stamm also relayed that the following participating Maplewood and South Orange retailers are putting informational window clings in their stores: 165, Perch Home, Retail Therapy — who has donated more than 15 dresses — Jerry Rose Floral Event Design, Buy-Rite, and Gleason’s. Also, Sadie's will be hosting a shopping event on March 12, 6-9 p.m., where all shoppers will receive 10 percent off their purchase; 10 percent of all sales for the day will go to Prom Shop.

Sadie’s is offering 10 percent off to anyone that donates a dress and for the entire month of March will be donating 1 percent of all their sales to Prom Shop.  Other sponsors include Ashley Stewart, Mia del Mar, Bobbi Brown, and Faviana dresses, who are also donating to the Prom Shop this year. Pop-Up Prom Shop can be followed on Instagram at @promshopCHS.


Prom Shop is being held in room A107 on the first floor at CHS. Volunteers are sought to staff the sessions. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 20: 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 21: 10 a.m.-12 p.m., and 5:30-7:30 p.m. (before the musical)

Monday, March 23: during lunch hours and after school until 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 24: from the half day dismissal until 5:30 p.m. There will be food trucks and music outside on that day.