The pandemic is changing the way brides say yes to the dress
The precarious state of the supply chain forced Unforgettable to change focus and become a wedding dress store for the month
In 50 years of marriage, many of those who work together, the Cerasias say they have stayed at the forefront of the fashion industry by being open to change, expecting the unexpected and always putting on something special. aside for the future – just in case.
Despite many attempts at rest, relaxation and retreat, Tony and Deborah Cerasia are instead back doing what they know best by providing top notch service to their clients – some of whom are second or third generation. loyal North Bay families entrusting their Fashion for Special Occasions needs the Cerasias – and temporarily shifting their business model to help COVID-19 brides say yes to dress in an evolving industry with deadlines significantly changed supply.
For a small business that sources materials and ships them to various locations around the world, the precarious state of the supply chain has forced their Main Street East store, Unforgettable, to change focus and become a wedding dress store for the month.
âWhat we do here,â observes Deborah, âis we try to make things as easy as possible for our customers.
“Service!” Tony adds as he walks out of the retouch room with different lengths of thread attached to his clothes.
âWe maintain what we sell,â Deborah concludes for her husband.
The Cerasias are removing their stocks in anticipation of the final arrival of their out-of-stock stocks in Canada. They even present dresses from other outlets in the hope of doing the same. There will come a time when the supply constraint eases, but for brides and nuptials looking to gear up for upcoming nuptials, the best case scenario due to supply issues might be to buy on the rack and have changes made in -loger.
Vendors in China, India and Myanmar all face delays related to the pandemic, as the latter’s plight is exacerbated by political unrest. This affects the supply of many materials needed to create wedding dresses.
The Cerasias admit the pandemic has been severe while operating on average at half their usual sales volume. But, this is where the planning ahead comes in.
âMost bridal shops operate on a monthly basis. We’ve been in business for so long – and not always as a simple bridal shop – we’ve learned you need to have a reserve,â notes Deborah. âWhen we shop, we make sure that whatever we buy, we put money aside to pay for it when it arrives.
“We also have an emergency reserve. We’ve been through two recessions and several economic downturns in our 50 years here.”
Deborah tells BayToday that the pandemic has caused a ripple effect for businesses that depend on typical shipping options. Assembly limits mean fewer factory workers and dockworkers in one place, forcing shipping companies to depend on a fraction of their regular workforce. Add in the delays in the Suez Canal earlier this year and everyone can guess when the orders will be filled.
For Unforgettable and others in the industry, not only have commodities such as buttons, lace, and other fabrics been delayed by several months, but inventory slated for spring has yet to arrive. . Deborah says many factories have closed as businesses shut down for good. She says the industry is changing every day.
âWhile it was normal to have a delivery of 16 to 20 weeks for maids ‘and mothers’ dresses and six to eight months for wedding dresses, those times were often doubled,â Deborah shares.
Over the years, Cerasia has made her own line of wedding and bridesmaid dresses as well as formal dresses for mothers while outfitting clients in Russia, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and across North America.
Not only have the timelines widened, but Deborah also estimates that costs have increased by 20-30% and “could rise further as producers struggle to adjust to the reality that COVID-19 has produced.”
The Cerasias know that the pandemic can only deter brides who have wanted to get married in the dress of their dreams for so long.
âWith more things opening up, more brides are getting married,â Deborah says. “We had brides on a Wednesday who got married on Friday. We got them on Friday who got married on Monday. We try to fit everyone in because we always operate by appointment only.”