Aug 20, 2012
Wear It and Declare It
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Help bachelorettes dress the part for the night

Trends come and go, but one thing that’s remained consistent is the fact that the wedding industry is still booming. Today’s bride-to-be is often willing to spend more money and celebrate longer to make that journey to the altar a memorable one, which means everything gets bigger and better – including bachelorette parties.

“Bachelorette parties are enjoying increasing popularity and there is virtually no place to buy these party items except in a party store or online,” said Warren Berkowitz of Forum Novelties. “Because it’s not readily available from the general retailer, party stores can enjoy a healthy mark-up.”

Terre Lantzy of sassigirl agreed, adding that if a party store has not created a bachelorette section, they are missing a great opportunity to cash in on a customer who will go elsewhere if they can’t find items at their local party store. In addition, bachelorette items have become more mainstream and sell all year long, not just during the summer months, which means the right selection can ensure consistent profits.

Misses Must-Haves

The right selection will vary from store to store, but “must-have” items include wearables, namely anything that lights up such as sashes, hair accessories, bracelets, boas, shot glass necklaces and tiaras.

“Tiaras, hats and boas are still popular, but adding light-up features and combining fashion trends such as mini-headbands and garters is increasing in popularity,” Berkowitz said. “It seems the line is moving over to more exotic wearables for bachelorette parties. What used to be considered ‘off color’ is much more accepted and demanded.”

For those stores that carry a selection of more mature bachelorette wearables, Cathy Ann Whorley of Seven ’til Midnight shared that more often than not, the basics win out. Along with their robe and garter belt, they have done well with their satin and lace glove collections.

“The gloves can be worn on that night out with the girls before the big day as a fun accessory or walking down the aisle as an elegant must-have,” Whorley said. “All of these styles come in white, black and red. The robe and gloves can also make great gifts for all the bridesmaids to share and make the wedding experience memorable.”

Whorley added that since the bachelorette party is a time for the bride and her friends to celebrate, they have really amped up their gift sets by adding tank tops that are a great present for the bride and have been worn while getting ready on the big day and the night of the bachelorette party.

“Retailers should keep a lookout for party favor items such as ‘adult’ candy and pecker molds for cakes,” Lantzy said when asked about must-have items. “Also, retailers need to stock bachelorette decorations, centerpieces and anything that deals with shots or men. Recently I’ve noticed Fascinators becoming popular (the British name for a feather headband hat) – especially those with feathers. There are styles for all seasons and party themes, so they can stay on your shelves for the year.”

When it comes to color, pink and purple are always the color of choice for bachelorette parties. Lantzy added that there have been some new products with pink and lime green and animal print that have started to gain some popularity, but all in all, pink and purple are still the colors to beat.

“Bright colors are really having a moment right now, and bachelorettes are particularly drawn to neons in feminine pops of pink and bright blue,” Whorley said. “We also have had great success with our panty gift sets in our go-go bags that come in a chic black and white.”

Mature Merchandising

When in comes to gifts and themes, it depends on the bride-to-be and where the festivities are taking place. But whether it’s a relatively tame at-home party with both family and friends or an out-on-the-town adventure, many customers are sticking to the basics.

“Brides-to-be are always looking for a way to make the basics new again, because they are modern and stylish, but they also enjoy the classic traditions,” Whorley said. “One way Seven ’til Midnight does that is with our Do Not Disturb Gift Set that includes a veil, thong and garter. It’s a bit of a twist on the traditional bachelorette gift, and keeps it fun while including a traditional element of the veil and garter.”

Carrying some of these more “adult” selections can prove tricky for retailers, and Lantzy recommends that if you have the space, to create a separate area for “mature” customers – hang items up high or put them in the back of your store. Do a similar treatment like the grocery stores do to cover the front of Playboy or other racy magazines. If your store has a bridal section, put bachelorette items in that section and cross-merchandise.

“If you have a novelty and jokes or lingerie section, those would be the best places to cross-merchandise your bachelorette items,” Lantzy added. “Another idea would be to create themed or color driven ‘prepacks’ for your customers, maybe at different price points and maybe with a discount. Have a staff person become the bachelorette ‘specialist’ that can help with product selection and planning. This specialist could also give private showings of more risque merchandise.”

Berkowitz believes that a style guide for wedding and bachelorette should be created and marketed together. For example, wedding shower items that may be suitable for all guests – such as a wishing well and other fun bridal games – should be packaged in the same style guide colors as the bachelorette. While bridal parties tend to be in a home and bachelorette items enjoyed on the road, they are basically the same customer and should be presented in the same area.

“But for the more risque items, some people are taking a section of grid wall and creating a small closed in area covered by a curtain with a sign stating ‘For Adults Only,'” he added. “Others are merely placing a sign in the wedding and bachelorette area stating that ‘if the customer is interested, they have a selection of tasteful, but adult-themed novelty gifts available. Please ask for assistance.'”

As retailers, you have a great opportunity to cash in on a customer who will go elsewhere if they can’t find items at their local party store. So whether it’s a tame tiara or a sexy shot glass, make sure that you keep those shelves stocked.

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