It’s a fairly common occurrence. You buy something online based on a photo and when you get it, it looks nothing like what you thought.

Most people would just send it back and order something else. But not Michelle Dugan. For this Glenpool resident, her daughter’s purchase of a prom dress online sparked the idea for a business that has taken off.

“When the dress arrived, it didn’t look anything like the photo, said Dugan, owner of Wishes & Dreams Prom/Wedding Dress Resale Event. “I thought, ‘I am never going to pay full price again. I will just go to a resale shop.’ ”

But there wasn’t one in Tulsa with a big selection of prom dresses.

“My husband and I decided to go for it,” she said in a recent interview. “Last year, our first year, we had 600 dresses consigned and we’re hoping this year to have 600-800 dresses. The girls bring them to us and we register them. They get 70 percent of what we sell them for.”

Like wedding dresses, prom dresses are usually only worn once and can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The Wishes & Dreams Prom/Wedding Dress Resale Event, set for Feb. 28, provides an opportunity for girls to not only buy a gently used or new dress for a wedding or a prom, but also to sell their dresses and use the money to buy something else, she explained.

“Our sellers are generous, too,” she said. “They want to sell their gown for a good price and to make some other girls happy with a reasonable price.”

The title of the event says it all, Dugan explained. It’s about fulfilling wishes and dreams. There were even tears at last year’s event.

“That’s how we came up with the name of the business is that these girls can come in and buy dresses they wished and dreamed of but couldn’t afford,” said Dugan, who is CND (Creative Nail Design) grand master nail technician with V’Las Salon & Spa in Tulsa.

“For example, some gowns originally priced for $600 sell for $250. Some bought for $300 sell for $90. It’s an opportunity to buy the gowns they never thought they could afford and an opportunity for the sellers to sell dresses that have been sitting in their closets that they couldn’t sell on a Facebook page or online.

“Last year was a pretty cool experience. We had girls who would cry when they were able to buy the dresses they wanted. I wasn’t prepared to see girls crying with happiness. I knew they were going to be happy, but I didn’t really know the emotional impact it would have on them and their mothers when they walked out with a really expensive gown they bought for only $200. It was worth all the hard work.”

While some girls bought two prom dresses, mothers with multiple daughters were happy to buy dresses “at such a good price,” added Dugan, who starts registering dresses in October and continues through the Sunday before the sale. Consigners can find the registration form for each dress on Facebook and which can be dropped off from 3-6 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 21 at the Dugans’ home in Glenpool.

Once they are registered and priced, the hundreds of gowns collected are stored on racks in tagged garment bags in the family bonus room and, close to the sale, can be found “hanging from every corner of the house, she said. Her whole family helps with the event, she said.

“We cater to all ages and we found this out at the last sale: that there are some younger girls who like some of the older styles,” said Dugan. She advises consigners to make sure their dresses have been cleaned, are in good condition with no stains, tears or ripped hems, and are from the last couple of years so they are still in style.

Admission to the event is $5 and members of the Glenpool High School senior class will be volunteering and will receive the proceeds from the door for an after-graduation party.

This year’s event will also feature some short cocktail-type dresses that can be used for parties or for events such as an eighth-grade graduation.

And there will be 40 new wedding gowns from designers like Mori Lee and Alfred Angelo with price tags still on them, she said. Some were bought for weddings that didn’t take place, and some were used in a runway show.

“Besides prom, we have ladies who come in to buy evening gowns for the Shriners Ball, cruises, weddings, graduations and military balls.”

The event will be held in the Southern Hills Marriott, 71st Street and Lewis Avenue, and will include a jewelry vendor, a photo booth and folks from Assistance in Health Care who raise money to help those with breast cancer pay their bills.

“They have an event called Mom Prom and they will be selling tickets to it, and will have some ’80s dresses in their section. We are really excited to team up with them.” Its prom will be held April 15 at The Other Side Event Center, 6904 S. Lewis Ave.

Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360

rita.sherrow@tulsaworld.com