“Buy your cheap prom dresses direct from China, and save $$$! Buy tailor made cheap prom dresses at up to 75% off! Buy now, cheap prom dresses and affordable homecoming dresses with inexpensive shipping and best customer service, in sizes 0-32W! Cheap prom dresses and semi formal gowns thru our website, direct to customer!”
Do all of these ads sound familiar?
If you or a loved one are searching for prom dresses, than you are bound to have come across countless ads just like the ones mentioned above online. Today’s prom consumer is savvy to a great deal, and is not afraid to use the powers of online research and shopping to find the “perfect” prom or semi formal dress. But, what happens when your “perfect” cheap prom dresses arrive with missing beads, poorly constructed details, or looks nothing like the picture shown? What if those cheap prom dresses do not even arrive? What is the true cost of cheap prom dresses?
The investigative reports shown below are just a few examples of what countless teens experience when they shop online. Dresses not being delivered – dresses arriving in envelopes, looking nothing like the designer originals. So, we ask again, what is the cost of a cheap prom dress? Is it defined by the loss of local dollars into your economy, or is loss defined by the prom-goer whose dreams of that one perfect dress are ruined by someone she will never even meet in person, or perhaps even never get a chance to speak with?
Video Courtesy of NBC 5
Video Courtesy of MSNBC
After watching these videos, maybe you are still saying “well – that’s just some websites – that wouldn’t happen to me. My best friend got a dress from xyz website, and she loved it”. Maybe you are not the type of person that buys locally made products. Maybe you don’t care whether your hamburg came from Brazil, or Texas, as long as it tastes good. Perhaps it’s okay if your Rolex is a knock off, or your Fendi is a fake. After all, who’s going to know? And, your cheap prom dress? You’re only going to wear it once, right? Why pay a fortune?
I’ll admit, I’m a bit bias on the subject. And, here’s why. I bet you want a good paying job in your local community after graduation, or even during high school to make a few extra dollars for college. And, I bet you want customer service and selection in the local stores that you shop at on a day to day basis. Maybe you are even guilty of finding a dress you love, with the help of a trained consultant at a local boutique, snapping a picture of it, and trying to buy it online for half price. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, than please stop and think of how your actions truly affect the cost of a prom gown.
Full service bridal and formal wear salons, like Christine’s Bridal & Prom, work one on one with designers to bring beautiful products to our stores for the consumer. We operate with costs associated with having staff, a physical location that our customer may come to, and all of the costs associated with the operations of the business. In addition, to be able to carry a specific designer’s line, we are expected to buy minimums. These dresses are sold to us at wholesale, because we are buying a large quantity of goods for thousands of dollars, multiplied by the number of designers that any given store sells. At the end of each season, there are no “buy-backs” – if a store does not sell the dress in question, they absorb the cost of that gown, and the time spent showing it to any amount of non-buying customers.
As a bridal and formal wear store owner, and as a dress designer, I can honestly say that most boutiques are passionate about helping a customer find the perfect dress. We are skilled, educated professionals in our field, and pride ourselves on having a quality product, at an affordable price. We know a woman’s body – in many instances, we have built our lives around finding just the right dress to enhance her figure, and when shopping at a boutique, or formal wear store, you will have access to the professional’s wealth of knowledge about style and fit. However, we are also not a try on store, and as owners, we are indignant to think that the consumer may feel entitled to try on our dresses (that we paid for), take the time of our staff (who are local members of our community that depend on their job as a source of livelihood for their families), and use our dresses as “samples” to then buy a dress online for “wholesale” or “direct-from factory” prices. In truth, as a consumer, there is no such thing as a “factory-direct” price, unless you have a resale business license, and are buying quantities of 18-36+ units. If you’re not, don’t kid yourself. You’re not getting AUTHENTIC designer dresses at “wholesale”. You’re getting lied to.
Nicole Schultz of Mac Duggal Designs sums it up by saying “The U.S. fashion industry is bedeviled by counterfeiters. This is a particularly severe problem for prom dress retailers. A common occurrence is for a teenage girl to come into their boutique, look at a designer dress, and then “showroom” the boutique by searching on Google, where they can find links to websites of offshore online stores with photo’s of the exact same dress, and buy it for less than half the price. Of course, the result of buying a special occasion dress from an offshore retailer is fairly similar to that of buying a “rolex” from a New York street peddler. When the dress arrives, if it does arrive, there are lots of tears flowing from the naive teenager buyer who wanted a special dress for her once in a lifetime experience of going to prom.” You can see the entire article here.
And, it doesn’t stop with just the prom dress. We’ll be sharing more links soon to see similar experiences of consumers with their bridal gowns. In the formal wear industry, it’s time to step up and say “wake up!”. If you support local business, not only is it beneficial for the very community you live in, but you get to try it, feel it, and fall in love with it. You get to enjoy the experience of finding the gown, as much as the gown itself. Isn’t that the true worth of the dress? All of our prom gowns are priced from $75.00 to $450.00, with something for everyone. We do offer affordable prom dresses locally. So, really again, how much will that internet gown cost you? How much will it “cost” the community that you live in, and the families those jobs support when you buy a dress online instead of locally? And, what memories or experiences did you miss out on? You may just be surprised – affordable prom dresses DO exist, and they are often right in your own backyard, but only as long as you support the local brick and mortar stores that sell them.