STREET SEEN "My customers are Latin," says the owner of Latin Bridal Silvia Ferrusquia, entertaining a crowd of mamas, grandmas, and our photographer while we wait for the models for our photoshoot to get their hair and makeup done, and don the massive, fairytale quinceañera dresses and tiaras they bought from her shop for their big days.
"They may not have a lot of money, but they have good taste. There's nobody that serves this community the way we do."
Sadly, the community may have to look for other options. After a decade in the Mission Street storefront, Ferrusquia — whose crowded, colorful shop is one of the last of its kind in the neighborhood — has been served an eviction notice.
In the spring of 2012, in the middle of the shop's busy season, a damaged sewage pipe caused 11 ceiling tiles to fall, ruining close to a hundred of Ferrusquia's ornate bridal, communion, and quince dresses with foul liquid. She says a representative from Prado Group, her landlord, told her to hold her rent payments until damage could be assessed and reparations made.
"What are we going to do without you?" customer Veronica Ortiz wonders, when she hears of the shop's predicament. Ortiz was picking up her daughter's communion dress, with its skirt of carefully-curled tulle roses. Like her sisters and sisters-in-law, Ortiz also bought her wedding dress from Latin Bridal. An extravagant gown inspired by Princess Diana's famous nuptials, it had 6,000 crystals sewn to it, and a 20-meter train that Ortiz says was mistaken by guests at her hometown wedding in Durango, Mexico for the church aisle's carpet as she said her vows.
Things went further south for the shop when the Prado representative with which they were communicating was fired. Ferrusquia was told by the company that she had to pay up the three months' back rent in short order. After the losses sustained while her shop was smattered with sewage, mildew, and subsequent discovery of asbestos during its busy months, she was forced to file for bankruptcy.
After multiple warnings to pay the back rent (which has ballooned to a figure over $25,000 — a number representing six months' rent that Ferrusquia does not understand and went unexplained by the Prado Group, who declined to comment when contacted for this feature), she was served with a final eviction notice this month. She tells me the building's other tenants are being pushed out, that the Prado Group would only renew the shoe store next door's commercial lease for a year and a half, and that she worries for the residential tenants upstairs.
The shop may be gone by the time you read this, if small business advocates are unable to help. At the very least we will have these photos of young customers in the Latin Bridal dresses they wore on the heretofore most important day of their lives — proof positive of Latin Bridal's importance in a neighborhood that seems to have decided to change. "At least we'll have gone out big," says Ferrusquia's son Eddie, thanking the shoot crew after the lights and curling irons are packed out.
"Don't worry about anything on your day," Ferrusquia says in Spanish to one of our customer-models, for whom the shoot is a test drive for her quinceañera next week. "Don't let anyone rush you! This day will never happen again."
Latin Bridal 2631 Mission, SF. (415) 647-4200, www.latinbridal.com 
Models: Amaris Tenorio, Brenda Diaz, Michelle Trejo
Art direction: Caitlin Donohue
Photography: Shot in the City 
Makeup: Sarina Martinezfirstname.lastname@example.org
Hair: Vivien Brown/Salon Miel 
Assistant: Dick Van Dick