Opitz had its first ever bridal discount sale on Monday night, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. Going into the event a half hour after its 6 p.m. start time, I pictured brides duking it out over beaded ballgowns—think the Friends episode where Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe bargain shop in Brooklyn—while MOBs trampled past to get their fingers on lacey frocks priced 80 percent off the original tag. I envisioned hordes of dresses and bickering brides everywhere, perhaps with a Jersey accent to complete my vision—maybe I watch too much Say Yes to the Dress, but can you blame me?
Though Monday night’s event didn’t fit my picture of the rambunctious bride who would to do anything to get a deal, it was the perfect Minnesota version of a bridal blowout sale—everyone was nice. Don’t get me wrong, there were hordes of people angling for a glimpse of the private room, but most everyone waited patiently and, once inside, worked efficiently, quickly, and individually through the racks.
Here’s how it worked: Upon entering the St. Louis Park designer discount hotspot, each bride (or in my case, curious shopper) was given a number. Mothers, daughters, and maids gathered toward the back of the store where a separate room housed the collection of bridal gowns, shoes, and evening dresses (these were grouped in multiples to provide bridesmaid options). Every ten minutes a group of ten or so brides were allowed into a back room to see the goods, while an Optiz associate counted down the ten precious minutes allowed to peruse the dresses. Once the time was up, a new batch of brides came in and the shopping brides were ushered over to the fitting rooms with a maximum of six frocks in tow. A seamstress was on hand to answer any alterations questions while the brides modeled their selections. Tough luck for any gal who wished she grabbed the Nicole Miller instead of the Badgley Mischka—each bride had to go back to the beginning of the line with a new number once they left the fitting room.
Optiz general manager Tammy Cash served as warden flitting throughout the store making sure the operations ran smoothly, while her associates stood guard outside the barricaded room to keep the hundreds of brides-to-be at bay. Shoppers could peruse the store’s regular merchandise while they waited, so long as they didn’t miss their chance to enter the revered room. And because this was Optiz’s first event of this kind, associates were watching the process closely, looking for ways to improve next year.
The event wasn’t without its problems. Ten minutes for each bride to peruse the merchandise didn’t seem like quite enough time, and I could have done without the bridesmaid dresses crowding the bridal gown space—perhaps a separate room with these evening dresses would have worked better? The assortment of designers wasn’t quite up to snuff with the level of high-end accessories available—think Louboutins and Manolos—but perfect condition merchandise was marked a hearty 70 percent off. While the collection had some great prices—some were as low as $50—many of the gowns were damaged, resulting in an 80-90 percent mark down, but would require additional costs in mending and alterations.
Overall, however, this event was a great first stab at a trend that’s sweeping the nation. Cash indicated that Optiz will keep the back room running until the merchandise is sold out completely, which, given the opening night turnout, she expects will happen soon. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for other options to discount shop in the Cities, check out our review of Veiled Envy, or if you’re willing to travel in order to save a few bucks, consider the infamous Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides on April 8 in Chicago (8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1 N. State St.). Given the steep costs of some designer gowns, it just might be worth it.
Opitz Outlet, 4320 Excelsior Blvd., St Louis Park, 952-922-2435, opitzoutlet.com