99 bridal gown sale turns market into boutique
Located on a scruffy, slightly frayed stretch of Broadway in Oakland, between Auto Row and Kaiser corner, Grocery Outlet has been called a lot of things: a frugalista fave, cheapskate central or, fondly, "Gross Out." But rarely has it been a fashion pit stop for brides-to-be.
That changed June 18, when the largest "extreme value" grocer in the country dipped its toes into the wedding market with its Dash to Your Dress bridal sale. for the start of the seven-hour sale of lace-, rhinestone- and beading-encrusted gowns by , all going for $99, reduced from $200 to $700.
"It's like the day after Christmas," said of Hayward, 31, in the queue when the doors opened with friend . Sporting an electric blue streak in her short crop and a stylish caramel-colored bolero, Dickens was obviously accustomed to making bold fashion statements. "I don't have an exact date yet, but maybe I'll get lucky."
Grocery Outlet staff counted down to the stroke of 7 and with a few scattered whoops, hoots and giggles, the shoppers headed into the store, which had jettisoned the produce islands in favor of a pop-up store within the store. Flower girls in petal pink greeted shoppers at the entrance of the pop-up, hushed and all business at the start. This was a serious shopping crowd, overcoming sleep deprivation to snatch a deal for the big day.
The rows of white gowns ranged from size 2 to size 26 (and up, cordoned off with the tag "no size"), and dark blue curtained partitions created a clutch of changing rooms.
Preschool teacher , 30, made her way from San Francisco on a tip from a student's parent. She fingered a ruched, lacy gown: "I'm not into getting all crazy and thinking I have to spend a ton of money on a wedding." Her big day is scheduled for summer 2012, but "this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up."
Around the corner, Woodard had gathered an armful of gowns to try on, including a one-shoulder style and several with full, sweeping skirts. "It's gotta flow away from the body," she explained. "Everyone wants to look like a princess!"
Petite Sierra Enskip, 24, of Oakland, got a little help from fiance , who cradled their 11-month-year-old, Tamiya. "I'm looking for a topless dress," she said, busily plowing through the size 6's.
That'll make for a fun wedding, a reporter joked. She meant "strapless," of course - and she's got more important matters on her mind than talking to reporters. "I'm planning on buying everything first and then setting a date," she divulged, as Sonny and Cher warbled "I Got You Babe" in the background.
Applause erupted as the first bride-to-be struck a pose in her strapless, its filmy train pooling behind her. "We'll sell anything if we can save our customers money," marketing staffer Mark Holz said, appraising her pick. about eight gowns had been purchased, the first by a man buying a dress for his girlfriend. "I hope he knew her size," Holz quipped. He said "hundreds" were sold by the end of the day. As the crowd began to thin, Thompson was at the check stand - she scored a frock with glittery rhinestone details. "It doesn't quite fit me right, but I really like the lace on it, so . I feel like it's something to work with. You can get it altered, and if not, I'll put it up for consignment, and I'll only be out a little bit."