Owning a bridal boutique

posted 2 years ago in Dress
Post # 17
Member
4558 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

I think she might be better off and much more profitable opening up an accessories boutique,  shoes, jewelery, head pieces, veils, and having in house alterations at competitive prices, say 20% cheaper than competitors.  She can have a larger stock and new items every week to entice brides and bridal parties, wedding guests, etc. Much better than a limited stock of dresses.

Post # 19
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

lifeisbeeutiful :  I completely agree. I fail to see how she could make enough profit otherwise. Especially if she has to pay for the startup, her shop, and wages for herself and two others. Sounds like a nightmare and a sinking ship as far as trying to make any profit, from the way this was initially described. 

Post # 20
Member
825 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017 - Sea Cider

Agreed with Lifeisbeeutiful. Maybe even a co-op, where locals who make veils/jewelry/similar can buy space from her salon to feature their own wares?

I would not shop at that salon. I researched dresses by designer, and only went to salons that carried designers that I loved. One salon in my nearby large city served blue “champagne” to brides; my mother called it “Smurf wine”, and we actively avoided that place, even though they carried two designers I liked.

Second thought – why let someone who is trying on fancy dresses eat and drink? What if they spill? What if someone near them spills?

Perhaps instead have small, individual serving bottles to give only to brides who BUY their dress with your friend.

Post # 21
Member
2629 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - Hogarths, Solihull

ohkae :  Would I shop there?

Yes, I would definitely check that salon out. 

I don’t think the Tshirts and gift baskets are necessary, but I like the sound of the rest 🙂

Would she be able to offer hot beverages too? I think if you can’t serve champagne then tea/coffee would be nice to offer (especially for the mornings lol)

Post # 22
Member
734 posts
Busy bee

ohkae :  I would also suggest maybe mimosa? Less alcoholic in the morning, and less costly. Champagne will lose their bubbles too so don’t know how long you can left it opened in between guest appointment.

I would also offer soda, tea, and coffee for those who can’t drink alcohol, and also good small brewery beer (easier to keep too since it is in 12 oz serving). I think variety of cheaper drinks is better than one expensive drink.

I don’t like t-shirt nor basket – more unnecessary stuff. 

Do you mean macaroon (coconut) or macaron (french dessert)? Not all people like macaroon, and macaron is expensive and finicky to store (moisture can wreck it, it stales in 2-3 days even with proper storing). I’d rather have small dessert bowl and/or petit fours, and 3-4 chocolate dipped strawberry. Easier to keep, still cute and feel luxurious, and good for bride-to-be who are dieting.

Post # 23
Member
120 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I went to a few shops like this but in the end, the stock was too limited to purchase, especially as I am plus size. I mean eventually the shop I purchased from had maybe 100 (and much were out of my budget), so I guess it’s not toooooo far off. 

Post # 24
Member
7419 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

As a consumer, I associate the champagne-and-macarons experience with very high prices, and I associate lower price ranges with less personal service. The combination of low prices and white-glove service makes me wonder what the catch is. I probably wouldn’t shop there just because I’d be suspicious of any shop’s ability to play in two very different markets and actually be good at both.

Post # 25
Member
1351 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

If the shop was close to me I would check it out. The extras would not make me shop there though it would really be the dresses. 

During my search I went to high end 10K+ dress stores and stores with dresses under 3K, it was really about seeing the stock. 

Also if she is carrying unkown designers she wouldn’t be a destination shop (even an hour away) which would be really necessary to sustain her buisness. 

Post # 26
Member
164 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I love personalized service and smaller boutique places, so I’d be all over it. To me there’s something to be said about a limited selection. I can be quite indecisive so a warehouse full of dresses is just intimidating and makes me feel very anxious… I’d much rather try on a smaller selection and get personalized service myself. In fact, I only went to various small boutique to try on gowns myself. 

My one caveat is that the gowns I was looking at/for were definitely above the $3500 range, so the quality of the fabric and the gown construction would be another factor for me.

Post # 27
Member
830 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

I went to a shop like this! They had a handful of dresses (probably less than 70) and some accessories. Appointment only, only one person at a time. They had one person handling the appointment and 2-3 people working on alterations in a warehouse attached to the building. 

Pros: they’re focused just on you, I didn’t feel rushed like I did in other stores, unique gowns I couldn’t find anywhere else in my area (possibly the state?), brought in a “featured” collection that changed so inventory was rotated besides their regular stock of dresses.

Cons: very limited selection (I was looking for beaded fit and flare and most dresses were all lace or ballgowns), couldn’t take pictures so that they could keep the designers/dresses they sold a secret, didn’t know the designer names so I couldn’t look them up online/see if there was other dresses in their collection that the shop could get in for me to see.

Wanted to add that they had flavored water and wine available. They also had pretzels and cookies from a local bakery. They advertised for that bakery so I’m sure they cut a deal with them which is a good idea.

Post # 28
Member
2020 posts
Buzzing bee

ohkae :  I’ll touch on the experience part since you’ve gotten some solid business advice. This sounds very similar to a bridal shop in my area, and here’s been my experience with them. I’ve actually gone twice, since I was previously married about 7 years ago and then just went again last week to shop for a dress for my upcoming wedding.

  • These very small boutiques tend to follow trends, so it narrows the market for what a bride is going to be able to try on. In my case, I wanted nothing overly lacy, blingy, heavy, long sleeved, high necked or keyhole backed. That eliminated almost 97% of what was available to try on at this small boutique salon. I pulled 8 dresses, and that was about all they had that was more on the “simple” side. I didn’t feel like my criteria was that narrow, I wanted something light, with a low back and a small amount of detail in a sheath or trumpet silhouette. I was open to straps or strapless, any colors, any brands. But, with only a few hundred dresses (I think she said they carry 300), I only had a few to choose from to fit that need. So in your friends case, I would make the website VERY specific on the types of dresses she will carry so that brides don’t come in there thinking there’s a large selection.

 

  • In addition to that, it was very cramped and I was having to constantly take the dresses off immediately and make a “yes/no” decision so that way my reject pile could get put back on the racks ASAP for those shopping. This was aggravating to me because I wanted to wear it for a minute to see how it sat, how heavy it really was, how it felt to walk around, etc. Also, they would allow NO pictures, so I couldn’t even see if it looked ok from the side or if I liked how to photographed. They used the whole, “the designers don’t allow pictures” things. Yeah— I’m sure Mori Lee would be heartbroken to know her white strapless satin dress was photographed–*gasp*– in a wedding boutique!

 

  • I know it’s not the salons fault, but I seriously hate the questions and “personalization” of it haha. I was asked a TON of questions before the appointment began for my “consultant to help me”. I’m OK with wedding date, grooms name, style preference, price range questions… but they seriously wanted me to put down floral scheme colors and bridal party info and yada yada that had NO bearing on buying a dress.  They were trying to create that TV moment by dimming the lights and giving me a veil and a fake bouqet when they felt I was close to making a decision. Not every bride is a first timer, and not everyone is having a pretty princess day… so I didn’t like the whole “this is the greatest moment of your life!” forced happiness from the salon staff. No, it isn’t. I’m buying a dress I will literally wear for 5 hours and take a few pictures in. It actually has no impact on how great my life is!

 

  • The sales pitch when dress shopping really aggravates me. The first time I did this, almost a decade ago, I had a hard time saying no and wound up with a dress that was very nice– but I think part of the reason I chose it was because there was a lot of pressure in the moment to pick something out. The whole bridal industry places SO MUCH PRESSURE on finding “the dress” that you go into it feeling like you must find something and buy it immediately. It’s unlike any other shopping experience, because I found at these boutique shops– they hover, and they are very involved in your entire process. Hell, most of them don’t even have mirrors IN the dressing room because they want you to come out and make it an experience. I don’t like removing that layer of independent thought from it, I am a grown woman, I should be able to put a garment halfway on and decide if I like it or not before being clipped into it and paraded around the whole shop for God and everyone to see!

In the end, I went to Davids Bridal immediately after my appointment with the boutique and found a dress, and bought it immediately. It wasn’t that my experience with the boutique was “bad” per se, but it felt pushy, cramped, and the selection wasn’t what I was hoping for.

And just cause it’s a dress thread… this is the one I ended up buying:

Post # 28
Member
2318 posts
Buzzing bee

I have toyed with the idea of a bridal salon but the competition in my area is fierce.  I think the “experience” is going to have to go beyond just the purchase of a dress to be competitive against well-known brands even if they are an hour away.  Drinks and snacks, Promotional shirts really do not scream up scale experience.  Every shop I visited besides David’s Bridal offered some version of what she is already considering.  

Maybe you are leaving out details of what really sets this shop apart to protect your idea.

my Yes or No answer…….Yes, I would shop but I would probably not buy until I also tried on some of the big designers I have seen on-line or in magazines.  And the larger shops with a larger selection have a better chance of having a dress that I want.  It doesnt matter what people in your town want now when it comes to dress shopping.  You have to have the mindset that you are there to show them that they did not know they wanted what you offer, and that they need it and cant live without it.  

Post # 29
Member
5219 posts
Bee Keeper

ohkae :  I don’t think it is a bad concept, just needs to be really thought out and make sure she really gets quality staff, that makes a lot of difference!

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