As couples are faced with rescheduling weddings or re-imagining their big days, we reached out to a few bridal shop owners around the state to see how they and their couples are doing.
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Here’s what Coni Merandi had to say:
CONI & FRANC is filled with beautiful casual and everyday wear, work attire, interview clothing, dresses—cocktail, evening, bridal, bridesmaids, flower girls, and mother of the brides and grooms—as well as accessories, shoes, and foundations. The shop has been a part of countless special occasions in the Mountain State for more than 35 years.
Q: How are you doing, and has business changed for you over the past few months?
A: We are well and still functioning in new ways including by phone, by text, reaching customers through our website, by email, and by using Facebook and Instagram. We’ve also introduced virtual and curbside appointments so that everyone can still practice social distancing.
We have definitely been affected by not being able to sell in-person to clients. But our ability to work with clients by these other means has helped us service existing clients and create new connections that we look forward to transitioning to in-person when the time comes to reopen.
We anticipated the shutdown and stay-at-home order. We immediately went to work rescheduling five weeks of CONI & FRANC client fittings into the four days before the shutdown was officially announced. Our designer/seamstress worked for four weeks and is completely caught up now. The last couple of weeks she’s spent time making reusable and fashionable masks for our staff, and for client gifts when we reopen. We have been taking appointments for fittings and new clients in anticipation of our reopening, and we’re ready to start fittings and assist with purchases for immediate and future events.
Q: How are your clients handling the postponement or cancellation of important events like proms, weddings, and other special occasions?
A: Many of our brides are striving to keep their event dates as planned. But more than 30 of our brides have had to reschedule their wedding dates. We are flexible with our clients’ needs as many of them are holding on to their original wedding dates with smaller numbers of people attending. Many of them are planning a larger celebration at another time.
Q: What do you want your clients to know?
A: Our communications with brides, bridesmaids, mothers, and families are all about encouraging them to take a deep breath and reassuring them that everything is going to work out. Even if it is in a new and better event than originally planned, that’s ok. We are here to take care of their needs. We need to remain flexible. For example, if the date has changed from summer to fall or winter, we need to rethink the ensemble. Do we add a sleeve or a real or fur-like wrap? We’re here to help them think through these things. We’ll also need to consider season-appropriate rehearsal dinner attire and their bridal shower dress, etc. We’re here to help them however they need us to.
Q: How do you foresee this affecting you in the short-term and long-term?
A: We’ll be implementing scheduled appointments with shopping times and disinfecting time before the next client arrives. We will also be asking for detailed information in advance to make each shopping experience enjoyable and time-efficient. We will explore ways to help our clients before they arrive and plan to use their time with us wisely.
Q: Are you accepting new clients right now?
A: We are definitely accepting new clients. Customers have been patiently waiting for the last eight weeks to physically come into CONI & FRANC for shopping. We are ready, willing, and able to take all the appointments that are requested. We are even willing to extend our hours or make Sunday appointments to accommodate our customers’ needs.
Q: How can people best support you right now?
A: Shopping local is a wonderful way to support our community. It’s also wonderful to rediscover your area and realize just how much there is in Morgantown, Monongalia County, and the state of West Virginia. Our retail businesses are a treasure, and the shop owners are ready to take care of each and every client. So let’s get shopping.
Q: What is the best way for people to reach you?
A: Reach us online at connieandfranc.net through the email form or make an appointment through the tab. Follow us and message CONI & FRANC @conifran on Facebook or @coni.franc on Instagram. You can also call 304.292.1111 for an in-store appointment or to set up a virtual or curbside appointment as an alternate option. Special shopping moments with clients makes our day.