I had the opportunity to visit one of the "big box" bridal & prom stores a few weeks ago. It was certainly not my main mission to go to this store, but I was in the area, so of course I had to stop in to see what it was all about.
I was there for at least 15 to 20 minutes, walked by 3 sales associates, and not one greeted me or asked if I needed any help. I also observed a young girl shopping for a formal dress. Based on how young she looked, I am assuming it was the first time she had every purchased, or tried on anything formal. She was walking aimlessly around the store, in a dress that was completely wrong for her, followed by her mom and a friend. I felt so sorry for her because I could see the frustration mounting on her face. At no point did I see a sales associate offer any help or advice to this young girl, who was so completely and obviously out of her element.
Shopping for formal-wear is much different that shopping for ready-wear clothing, and when you don't have someone who knows about formal-wear to guide you it can be a very frustrating experience.
I know that big box stores have there place and that we all shop at them for one reason or another, myself included. I also think that small stores have a lot of stereotypes that get placed on them that are not fair or true. We really have a lot more to offer than people might think.
Stayed tuned for part two of this series where I will begin to discuss common myth's about bridal boutiques, how they can compete with the big chains, and give the consumer a better experience to boot.
Store owner, Kelly has been in the bridal industry since 2000, when at the ripe old age of 20 she opened her first little store front on a wing and a prayer. She is a certified wedding planner (no, she does not plan weddings), and everything she knows about bridal and formal wear has come from, gut instinct, trial and error, and watching LOTS of What Not to Wear.