Silver Linings

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.

And in light of recent events surrounding the unexpected closure of Alfred Angelo, more than ever I realize that’s true.
    Like many, the news shocked me.
    I first learned of it while browsing social media. An ominous post speculating about why someone hadn’t received a call back from their AA rep in days, coupled with an almost simultaneous post from a bride talking about how “her” AA store was closing, caused me to wonder what’s up. Curious, I turned to my trusty old pal Google. What I found was one speculative statement after another. . .
    And, well, everyone knows what happened next.
    When the news broke, I expected the anger, confusion, gossip and concern. What absolutely impressed me, however, is how quickly this industry selflessly came together to help brides in need.
    In July, we posed a question on the VOWS Facebook page asking how retailers were responding to the AA news. I received a flood of e-mails from salons and manufacturers nationwide detailing what, exactly, they were doing to assist brides in need.
    Every single business or individual that stepped up to the plate is deserving of praise. It’s impossible to recognize each individually here, so I thought I’d share the first three responses I received (edited for length):

    (An AA bride) was torn between two gowns in my boutique. . . her wedding is this September 23! Kenneth Winston came through and got me the dress – thanks Michael Katzman! 
    Here’s the best part: she couldn’t stop thanking me and when she left she looked at me and said I was “her saving angel.” Furthermore, she told me she was truly blessed to have met me and she loves the gown she bought in my boutique better than the Alfred Angelo anyway! Wow... That made my day!
    Yes. . . it’s unfortunate AA went out of business...and how ironic!
    AA was the first company to give me an open line of credit 32 years ago so that I could buy my first few wedding gowns to open my store. I was turned down by four vendors in New York City prior to that because I was new in the business. I never forgot Alfred Angelo for that!
    It’s sad they closed their doors and even sadder for the brides who are left with no dress. I’m here to help them because that’s my job. . . to find the perfect dress for her!
    I was always told that something good comes out of something bad. . . I tell my staff the same thing: Make it a good experience so they may not forget us one day as I have never forgotten Alfred Angelo for trusting in me!
    Dianna Sauder
    Owner, Lilla’s Bridal Boutique
    York, Pa.

    What impressed me most is how other bridal manufacturers jumped in to offer discounts on in-stock merchandise and no charge on rush orders. It’s the only time I’ve ever witnessed immediate reaction such as this.
    This is a wake-up call for the companies that decide to go crazy with greed. I saw the writing on the wall two years ago and discontinued business after 35 years with AA. I did the same with a few other companies in the past few years because they lost sight of the people who helped build them... small independently owned businesses such as ours!
    I’ve been working side by side with my mom for 31 years and for the most part loving my work. Yes, the climate is changing and I’ll welcome it until it hurts my family, business or brides! My mom has a saying for the bridal business – she calls it the antique business. The same rules apply as they did 40 years ago (just like the size charts!): You can never take the “old school” thinking out of a success story.
    My heart breaks for the entire lineage of Alfred Angelo. These gowns will forever be a part of me and my family. I’ll never sell the last dream in color gown in claret hanging in my store – unless, of course, it’s a real emergency!
    Joanne Cecchettini
    Lisa Cecchettini
    Bridal Veil Fashions

    Angie Oven at The Bridal Galley in Salem, Ore., became an admin on the national Facebook group dealing with all the fallout from the Alfred Angelo closure. She has personally worked with vendors and stores to help bridesmaids and brides across the country both in our area and outside of our area. She has found Alfred Angelo items and also found alternative items that would work for brides and bridesmaids, and helped many people including local brick-and-mortar storeowners out in this horrible situation.
    On top of that she has worked with manufacturers such as House of Wu, Venus and others to wave rush fees and even create similar styles that will work for these customers. The Better Bridal Group has come together as a national and international group of storeowners to post lists and find replacements for brides and bridesmaids.
    Dave Steele, via Facebook

    To all those that helped and continue to do so, thank you! I’m prouder than ever to be part of such an amazing community!

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