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Local shop makes it big with own reality show

Local shop makes it big with own reality show

Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 9:12 pm

Local shop makes it big with own reality show | Glamour Belles, Joann’s

Associate Editor
Smalltown USA became big news when basic cable television channel Lifetime signed on to air six episodes of Glamour Belles about Joann’s Gowns in Union City.
 The first show will premier at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Paige Burcham Carlton purchased the store from her mother, Joann Burcham, six years ago. Joann had owned the store for 20 years.
Mrs. Carlton said they cater not only to pageant contestants, but to brides, the bridal party, mothers of the bride and high school girls for prom. She also has several well-known people who purchase from her shop, including a Nashville news broadcaster, country music stars, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jackie Evancho of America’s Got Talent fame. Jackie’s latest purchase is the dress she plans to wear during the photo shoot for the cover of her soon-to-be released album.
Mrs. Carlton said the idea for the show came as a surprise to her. She also works as a dress designer for a Chicago-based company and about a year ago was asked to be a guest star on a talk show to discuss her little girls’ designer line called Sugar. They were also supposed to have a fashion show for the episode.
She said she was engaging in small talk with the show’s people during a lunch break when they began asking her questions about herself. She did not realize at the time that they were interviewing her. After returning home to Union City, she received a call from the producers who told her they thought her store would make a good reality show. At first, she blew off the idea, but after a second call that included questions about her staff and about Union City, she knew they were serious.
She recalled something her grandmother use to say: “When all is said and done, all you have is a story.”
“This is our opportunity for our story to be told,” Mrs. Carlton said, adding what she hopes people get out of the show is that all across America there are overlooked jewels in downtown areas.
She said that by simply turning onto First Street, shoppers can find stores with such things to offer as first-class service, personal shoppers at no extra charge and gift wrapping. “These are the stores that buy the annual ads and the money (spent at these stores) stays here because the owners live here.”
Once on board, Mrs. Carlton said a teaser for the “docu series” was filmed and the story idea was pitched. In the business, usually a pilot of the show is shot, but the producers had several offers for the show to go straight to a series. One of those offers came from Lifetime. She said she is extremely happy with Lifetime, as it is a kid-friendly channel and she does not have to worry about what show may precede or follow Glamour Belles.
“This is a one-shot deal. There are no plans for another season,” she said, adding, “I hope everyone enjoys the show.”
Mrs. Carlton said she and her staff don’t put on any airs during the show and are simply themselves. So, even though she said she could have easily disguised her southern voice, she did not. She also said none of the show is scripted and it all is as it would have happened if the television cameras were there or not.
In addition to the shop and its flow of customers, film production staff captured events at CornFest, in Kiwanis Park and in the Capital Theatre, which included a performance by members of “The Fair Show.” She’s unsure what has made it into the shows or what landed on the cutting room floor. One thing she knows did get cut — her special guest appearance on the other television network’s show.
Since the beginning of production, Joann’s has been able to launch its own website at, where more than 10,000 items are available for purchase. She said girls can pick out their dress, color and size; pay for it online; and have it shipped directly to their home. Of course, she, along with store manager Jared Hamlin, assistant manager Nikki Williams and their sales staff, will continue to give their personal service at their home base in downtown Union City, where they have a list of a dozen seasmstresses willing to help alter the dresses. They carry 32 different lines for every special event. Their selections also include such things as swim suits for pageant competition, shoes, jewelry, purses, breast enhancements and double stick body tape. “The advice is free,” Mrs. Carlton, who has a way when it comes to selecting dresses for future titleholders, said.
Joann’s is the official wardrober for the Miss Tennessee Pageant, and last year, she outfitted the top five finalists.
Mrs. Carlton said it is weird to have friends contact her and say they have seen her in “Globe Magazine,” which picked the show as one of its “Don’t Miss” programs.
“I also never thought it would be on New York Times or MSN.” On Thursday, “Glamour Belles” was listed with 16 other reality shows in Neil Genzlinger’s article, “Have I Got a Show for You.”
Area residents can follow Glamour Belles on Facebook at Glamour Belles or on Joann’s Facebook page. Currently about 1,900 people have “friended” the pages online.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at

Published in The Messenger 4.4.11


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