Feb 21, 2012
Two Parties, Double Profits
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Bridal showers and bachelorette parties bring twice the chance for sales

Before a bride walks down the aisle, she walks into your store, possibly looking for everything from bridal shower decorations to bachelorette party wearables. Whereas the former is usually traditional and demure to some extent, the latter tends to be a bit more trendy and relaxed.

The key is offering product for all parties, whether they be bridal showers or bachelorette parties, and creating an accessible environment that compliments both scenarios.

Simple Showers
Celebrations in Delphos, Ohio, stocks a large assortment of bridal shower themed tableware, balloons and decorations, making sure to keep solid colors in both tableware and balloons fully stocked.

“This can be a challenge since the guest lists for bridal showers are reaching all time highs; we are seeing bridal showers with as many as 100 guests,” said Owner Tammy Corzine. “It’s difficult to convince customers that it really is OK if the bridal shower decor features colors that will not be used for the actual wedding. So most customers end up using solid color tableware and balloons, then add in some bridal shower themed decorations such as centerpieces, banners and confetti.”

Black and white along with damask patterns paired with a variety of accents colors like pink, red, purple and blue have been strong for in 2011, and this is expected to continue in 2012. Corzine added that many brides have also been using gray as one of their wedding colors.

“Another trend we are seeing is more formal and upscale events,” she added. “Instead of plastic table covers and three balloons on a weight, we are renting linen table cloths and customers are choosing more elegant balloon designs or renting glassware for their centerpieces.”

Most of their customers also order balloons, from something as simple as three balloons to tie outside to mark the party location to a room full of balloon decor. Their bridal shower balloon offerings are displayed in a binder that includes photos of the foil and latex balloons they offer, along with decor pieces and designs they have created and ideas collected from industry resources.

They also keep several styles of veils, sashes and buttons on hand displayed in the same area as the bachelorette items, since many of these can be used for either event.

Bold Bachelorettes
When it comes to bachelorette parties, Corzine said they don’t sell much in the way of paper goods, balloons and decorations. Customers are looking for accessories they can use to draw more attention to themselves like veils, hats and tiaras, sashes, buttons and feather boas.

Warren Berkowitz from Forum Novelties point out that many bachelorette parties are road trip parties, sometimes even held in exotic cities such as Las Vegas, and usually require a different type of product.

“There are more demands for wearables at these parties for obvious reasons,” Berkowitz said. “A customer is less likely to decorate at an outside location, so hats, boas, tiaras and sashes are more popular. Customers holding parties in a house or private location may be more likely to buy decorations.”

“These customers don’t feel the need to coordinate with the wedding colors, they tend to choose something more bold, yet girly,” Corzine added. “I also expect zebra print and possibly polka dots to remain a strong choice in 2012, and bling is king in the bachelorette world! Anything that sparkles with crystals and/or glitter is a great seller.”

Brian Sofer of Eldorado agreed that any bright colors such as pink and purple really draw customers’ attention, and animal prints always sell.

“Silhouettes of people, birds, and flowers are also starting to become popular,” he added. “Light-up bachelorette items will be hot this season, especially flashing buttons, sashes and hairpieces, so make sure to stock up on those items.”

“When it comes to bachelorette parties, brides-to-be are looking for wearables for both her and her guests that set them apart from other bar hoppers or create a cohesive look for the group such as veils, tiaras, boas, beads, sashes, shot glass necklaces and bracelets,” agreed Terry Lantzy of sassigirl. “They also go for risque straws in pink and purple and bar games like Rate-a-Stud and Bachelorette Challenges.”

Those risque items can cause a problem for the retailer. How can these products be displayed openly without offending some of the other customers? Berkowitz said that when they design new product, they try to develop for both markets. While they have always sold the novelty bridal tiaras, sashes and veils, they’re now finding an increased demand for those adult themed accessories.

“When it comes to displaying such product openly without offending some customers, I unfortunately do not have a magic answer,” Berkowitz said. “The only solution that seems to work is to segregate the Adult items in a protected area. Most importantly, however, an appropriate clear sign should be placed near the wedding section telling the customers that adult-themed bachelorette products are available.”

Corzine said they get plenty of requests for more risque items, but have been reluctant to bring them into our inventory since they’re located in such a conservative community.

“Our retail space is divided in to several different areas, so we could set up an area to display the less tasteful items some of our customers are seeking that would be out of sight for the families and children that frequent our store,” she said. “But in the meantime, we simply offer some suggestions of where they could find these items and we’ll most likely revisit the idea of adding a small selection of a more mature variety in the next year or two if the requests continue.”

Lantzy suggested only carrying risque items that are not overly realistic and that come in fun colors, not flesh tones, and to create a bachelorette party area in the store – customers expect to find risque items there.

“Limiting access and hanging risque items higher than little people’s eyes height is also an option,” Lantzy added. “However, retailers who have the room to create an exclusive adult area to effectively merchandise adult products will be rewarded in sales.”

Berkowitz added that no matter what items you choose to put out on display -whether it’s for bridal showers or bachelorette parties – a section in your store that is consistently packaged will act as a silent salesman to maximize sales. Once a customer is drawn to a section of your store, they are more likely to make multiple purchases.

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