A woman’s wedding is the one thing that she has fantasized about her entire life. “Who will I marry?” “Where will I be tying the knot?” But most importantly, “what will I be wearing?” The dress is the centerpiece of her vision and the steppingstone to the culmination of her fantasy. So begins the search.
Today’s bride will leave no stone unturned in the search for her dream dress and lets no one stand between her and her quest for perfection! She will spend hours turning websites inside out. She will investigate silhouettes to determine what will look best on her. She will scour bridal magazines cover to cover. She will spend hours on the internet researching bridal shops. But not all bridal shops are created equal.
At a cursory glance you will see that in titling one’s self, “bridal” becomes a loose term. When searching for the perfect dress, you should also be searching for the perfect shop. In this age of social media and the internet, our fields of choice widen. Along with choice comes risk. Information is knowledge, knowledge is power and when planning the social occasion of your life and choosing the most important dress you’ll ever wear, you need all the power you can get. So the question is………full service or outlet? Sadly, most brides don’t know the difference.
Many of you don’t remember the full service gas station. One would drive in and sit in your car while a gas attendant would pump your gasoline for you, check your oil, and wash all of your windows. You would pay for your gas and drive off merrily into the sunset. In the 70’s, I remember having a choice between full service for a few cents more a gallon and self-service, where you would pump your own gas and save those pennies! Wasn’t it worth the extra cost to not have to pump your gas, check your oil, wash your windows? The extra pennies per gallon paid for the attendant providing the service. But wasn’t that service a treat? Weighing that option to save a few pennies as opposed to receiving exemplary service is a fair analogy to what’s happening in the bridal industry today. New bridal shops are popping up and for this value seeking generation who is not used to the “full service” mentality, a different brand of business is being served.
A “full service” bridal salon isn’t necessarily determined by how much they have to sell, it’s determined by what services they offer. With service comes a price tag. So, it should important in the large scheme of things, to be sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Brides often call asking to “price match” without realizing that they ARE comparing apples to oranges. We are asked to price match something that, without us, the full service bridal shop, they would NEVER have been able to touch, see, feel, experience. That service comes with an associated price ,much like the “full service” gas station. They ask without the realization that they are asking us to revise our brand of business that COST those extra pennies to provide.
There has been a significant rise in shops calling themselves “bridal” shops. Yes, they are bridal shops in the respect that they carry wedding attire. But there’s a certain protocol that true bridal shops have to adhere to be able to offer brides the gowns they carry. There are two buying seasons a year, Spring and Fall, and depending on the designer that collection may contain 50 or more designs from which to choose. To be able to offer the newest season’s dresses there are “minimums” a bridal shop have to purchase to be “open” to selling the entire collection.
I have nothing against people opening up outlet stores. I just don’t want them representing themselves as bridal shops, because, they’re not.
It is easy to see who is an “authorized retailer”. Just go to the designer’s website and verify by searching their “store locators”. It is easy for anyone to SAY they carry a certain designer, but oftentimes, if they are not authenticated by the website then they are not truly authorized to sell those dresses or to use that designer’s brand.
Which leads to the next question, where are these shops getting their dresses? Best guess is other shops who have gone out of business, stock overages from designers, consigned from brides whose weddings are cancelled or over with, not really clear. But just because they say they have a certain designer doesn’t mean they are “authorized retailers”. It just means they carry dresses from those designers. There is a significant difference. They are not able to order you a brand new dress from the designer from the most current season. No, they buy discounted past season dresses for pennies on the dollar and sell at a premium while masquerading as the real thing. From that point of view, it’s not entirely honest, is it?
This is just an exercise aimed at identifying and branding modes of business so YOU can be an educated consumer. When you are purchasing the most important dress of your life and you want the BEST, so full service or outlet? It’s your decision. But, here at SBB, we invite you to come for the experience, but stay for the service.