Monday, May 18, 2009

WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING: RIDICULOUSNESS VS. GRACIOUSNESS (PART I)

Based on my future sister-in-law's dress shopping experience (as well as my own), I've been reminded once again that all salespeople are NOT created equal.


Before I get to the bad, let me start with the good.

But, let me first start off by saying: I never considered myself to be a "Bergdorf's Girl."

When I was dress shopping, I had hesitated about making an appointment at the bridal salon of Bergdorf Goodman, one of the most exclusive and high-end department stores in Manhattan.

I felt as if I would receive the "Pretty Woman" treatment ("....there's nothing in here for you - PLEASE LEAVE" :).

My budget was, by NO means, within reach of most of the fluffy, beautiful dresses on the shiny, beautiful racks, in that shiny, beautiful showroom.

When I walked into Bergorf's on that first visit with my mother, I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious. I didn't have on the Tory Burch ballet flats, or the Hermes bag. I was just a regular girl, with a regular budget, hoping for the best.

And the best is, surprisingly, what I received.

When I walked into the bridal salon, it was calming. No gaggle of girls or entourages. No overbearing salespeople waiting to pounce.

Based on my experience there, I felt ashamed that I had harbored pre-conceived notions about the "Bergdorf's experience" in the first place---given how above and beyond my saleswoman, Joan, really went for me.

It took me three visits for me to finally bite the bullet and order my Oscar de la Renta dress. And not ONCE, not for one SECOND, did Joan ever make me feel pressured, or guilty, that I didn't order it. Patient, sweet, and a total DOLL, Joan became a confidante. She was an absolute PLEASURE to work with -- after I ordered the dress, and was working with her, no request was too big. Could I come in and see the dress to try on with shoes? Sure! Could she call Oscar de la Renta's contact person to see if they had shoes that went with the dress? Sure!

It was always a pleasure working with Joan, and, when my future SIL (who I will call BroadwayGal - for her love of broadway!) got engaged, I highly encouraged her (OK, and was very persistent and annoying :) that she go see Joan.

I went with BroadwayGal to Bergorf's; not only did I get to have a mini-reunion with Joan (with plenty of hugs involved!), but BroadwayGal found an amazingly beautiful Ines Di Santo dress. BroadwayGal spoke with Joan about her price points/budget, and I found out later that Joan went out of her way (according to BroadwayGal) to pick out dresses well below the high-end of the budget.

Joan picked out dresses that were absolutely gorgeous, and she LISTENED to BroadwayGal about what she liked and didn't like.

We never felt that Joan was distracted or trying to help anyone else during our appointment, and it was just a pleasure to see her again, and to see her provide the same level of service to BroadwayGal that she gave to me.

I don't know if the other salespeople at Bergdorf's are as good as Joan, or if we just got lucky. But I love the fact that the bridal showroom at Bergorf's is QUIET, PRIVATE, and by appointment only. Most of the bridal salons are by appointment only, but sometimes they will bend the rules (if they feel someone will be buying on the spot - see my next post!) -- not this place.

In any case, the bottom line is that buying a wedding dress isn't just about the dress. In my mind, it's also about the experience of buying the dress. Since brides spend so much money on "saying yes to the dress", shouldn't the experience match the high price?

As BroadwayGal and I hopped over to Saks, we quickly saw a stark comparison. BroadwayGal had been to Saks, and wanted to show me a beautiful Vera Wang that she had seen. I went with her on Saturday.

Ridiculousness soon ensued, and I was absolutely unprepared for it.

The bottom line - sometimes being a gracious bride can be trumped by a ridiculous salesperson. BroadwayGal was gracious at Saks -- I was losing it.

In my next post, I'll provide a short saga regarding snippy salespeople---and how to handle (or not, handle, as the case may be).

Stay tuned!

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