We love to have our local community come and support our locally owned shop and hope that everyone sees the value of having a professional help you select your gown for what will be one of the most memorial events of your life. Being able to try different styles on, have help choosing colors and accessories are just some of the benefits of buying at local stores not to mention the boost for the economy. But not everyone makes this choice.
I can't impart to you how many times we have heard sad, sad stories of internet purchases gone bad. The dress didn't come at all, it came and looked nothing like the picture, I got a bunch of material and a bag of beads so I could make my own dress. Time and time again we hear these sad tales from prom, pageant and bridal customers alike. Why does this happen so frequently, because everyone loves to get a bargain. Unfortunately, in the formal wear industry specifically, you usually get what you pay for so, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is and here is why.
Many of the manufactures in the formal wear industry require their retail stores to charge a minimum amount for their dresses. This means that, if we don't charge at least the minimum they say, they can refuse to sell to us. These price restrictions also apply to the people selling online. So, unless is it a previous years style or a discontinued style, all the dresses you see should be priced in roughly the same area. If you are saving more then $50 on a prom or pageant dress or more then $100 on a bridal gown (for current year styles) chances are you aren't getting exactly what you bargained for.
Why do we trust these online stores?
As you probably know by now, the majority of formal wear is made overseas. Because of this, many people have become comfortable with ordering products from overseas manufacturers. We see the same picture as we did on the manufactures website and many times it will say the manufacturer on the picture it's self. You have probably ordered dozens of things online in the past and never had a problem so why should this purchase be any different? Because, unfortunately, there are hundreds of these scam websites online and new ones come up everyday. The formal wear industry fights everyday to take these websites down but for everyone they get down two more go up.
So how do we protect ourselves?
By being smart consumers. This purchase is one of the most important purchases of your life. Don't just hit buy now and hope for the best. Do some research, call the seller, make sure you are getting what you want and it's available in the time frame you need it in. Here is a check list of things you can do to protect yourself.
If there is one standard size chart for all dresses the site offers this is a dead give-a-way. Each manufacturer has their own unique size chart and all sizes are not the same. If it's one standard size chart turn and run. This isn't the real deal.
If there is no phone number and it's not a US address this should send up red flags as well.
Don't trust reviews. You can pay companies to leave good reviews on your site. Unless it's a personal reference think twice.
Check the manufacturers website to see if they are an approved retailer of the produce
If it's an overseas address that would be even more critical as most overseas shops aren't authorized to sell and most likely are poaching pictures without the manufacturers approval.
Call the number on the website, talk to a human. Ask questions like, is my size is stock, if not, how long will it take, what is the return policy etc.
If you saw the gown in a shop for $1000 and it's now online for $300, it's not the same dress (or it's used, damaged or there is some other issue with it). We couldn't purchase the gown from the manufacturer for $300 and neither can any other reputable retailer. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is!
Last plug for local purchases
One other thing to keep in mind, is saving yourself $50 really going to be a cost savings in the end? If measurements aren't done properly and the dress is ill fitting the cost of extra alternations will cost you more then $50. If you need to pay someone to press or steam your dress how much is that going to cost? Is shipping covered, insurance on the shipping etc. Usually, any money that is "saved" in beginning is lost in the end. We encourage you to utilize the professional staff and added protection that using a local retailer will offer you.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!