Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bush Telegraph

I have been thinking of how follow up to last week's emotional reaction to an unfair article by a blogger about a fellow wedding retailer. I have been asked to write a few more articles - some trade and some consumer. Here are some early thoughts and some fantastic contributions from a couple of great bloggers that are not seeking to alienate themselves from an industry they purport to be in.

In 25 years of shopkeeping there is a lot of reinvention. adaption and moving with the times to be done. In fashion retailing the no-brainer is the dresses, the sixth sense you get about what to drop and what to buy.
In 2012 a bridal shop has to look like a palace, be staffed by angels and have the robust constitution of a prize fighter with a rock hard jaw. It is no longer acceptable, if it ever was, to sport artifical flower arrangements, border wallpaper and dresses in plastic. The shops have to be as chic and individual as a boutique hotel, have a customer service policy that is faultless, be prepared to work seven days a week if one includes bridal fairs and preferably be a social media marketeer. The competition is fearsome - more shops than are necessary, fewer customers than are needed, increased activity from auction sites and High Street chains wading in.

The stealth taxes like 20% VAT mean that margins are very tight - for your £2000 you are only getting £1600 worth of dress. Silk costs are spiralling, along with fuel and utilities. The only thing you can be very sure of is that UK wages are not following suit.

Yet we all love it - weddings, shopping for weddings, writing about weddings, going to weddings. Playing dress up in a wedding dress shop is a fun, emotional and memorable experience - good or bad. I would therefore appeal for some understanding. Wedding dress shops and their owners are not the billionaire oligarchs of wedding dress world - far from it. They ought not to be treated like playgrounds. Would you walk into a Porsche dealership and complain about the price of a car? You only want to go from A to B after all... No?

Effectively wedding dress shopping is a very different, unique shopping experience.  If we get all Bill Shankly and see it as " a matter of life and death, except more important," take it and oureslves too seriously, do not communicate we are setting ourselves up for a disappointment. A very clever blogger, Quintessentially Bride added to my Blog last week "I would always try to pluck up the courage to tell someone if I felt it was more than my own neurosis and sensitivity to blame for a disappointing experience." We. retailers, brides, bloggers, journalists will create a battleground  and severely reduce our own fun and happiness without a little bit of empathy all round.

Annabel from Love My Dress has found me a great quote from Barack Obama

"Obama acknowledged the emerging influence of blogging upon society by saying "if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, then what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding”

Food for thought? Let me know yours...frank questions gratefully received.

Jenny Packham 'Mimosa' available from September 2012

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