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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.