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Anne Porter worked at the radiology department at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital before making a drastic career change.

In 2005, she opened a formalwear and alterations business, Persnickety Formalwear, renting out tuxes and gowns to high school students and shortening the hemlines of wedding dresses.

Porter enjoyed how detailed and precise sewing was.

“You have to be very detailed when you work at a hospital,” she said. “I’m very detailed here.”

Sixteen years later Porter is retiring and handing the business over to someone new.

“This is a big deal to me,” she said. “This has been my baby for a lot of years.”

Persnickety Formalwear

A pin cushion full of pins sits on a work bench at Persnickety Formalwear on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Porter worked as the supervisor for the film library at the radiology department at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital before getting into formalwear.

She got into the business in the late 90s after a “very good looking, tall German” working at the local drycleaners she used caught her eye.

Doug Porter, who owns Persnickety Cleaners, asked the then-single Anne Porter to help out with odd hours at the shop.

“He gradually said, ‘oh, you want to help me on Saturdays?’ and that’s how it started,” she said. “We’ve been together 27 years.”

The two eventually married. Doug Porter’s dry cleaning business now has four locations in Bozeman, Livingston and Big Sky.

Now she wants to retire or, at least, “semi-retire.” With her free time she plans to spend more time with her family, including visiting her relatives on the east coast.

She’ll still pop in to help her husband’s business and plans to be around to help ease the transition for the new formalwear owner, David Shields.

Persnickety Formalwear

David Shields and Owner Anne Porter stand for a photo at Persnickety Formalwear on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Porter will be passing her business to Shields in October.

Shields also found Persnickety through a pursuit of the heart.

“I was dating a girl who was working for (the Porters),” Shields said. “She introduced me to Doug and Anne.”

Seven years later, Shields has learned the ins and outs of the formalwear business and has been quite reliable, Porter said.

When she began thinking about handing off the business and retiring, she thought of him, she said.

Shields will rename the business Ethos Alterations and Formalwear, officially taking over the business on Oct. 1.

Initially, he doesn’t plan on changing much at the business, except for a few cosmetic alterations like painting over some walls with leopard spots.

“I can’t steal Anne’s fire,” he said, of the décor.

He also wants to refigure how seamstresses work there, eventually operating similar to some salons which contract out salon space to hairdressers.

“They’ll be independent,” he said. As an employer, Shields wants to ensure his employees have a fair amount of upward mobility.

“I want to help people move along in their careers,” he said.

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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