Bosco’s Wedding Expo latest casualty of changing wedding industry

By Paul Pannone

The wedding business isn’t changing– it’s changed, never to return to the way it was. “Normal” marketing, advertising and product sales are falling prey to budget cuts and lack of any emotional consideration. Owners of suppliers turn a deaf ear to independent accounts, favoring big budget buyers who can place huge advance orders and pay invoices in a timely manner.

eWedNewz is watching several instances where competitors are aligning to take orders and hand off fulfillment to third-party sources, wanting only to collect money and divest themselves of any liability. While the plan sounds good (on paper) and is also being hailed by some least likely “supporters of the wedding business” claiming how well certain programs are working in Europe, it is doubtful the same approach will work here in the United States.

Ken Robasco of Bosco’s Wedding Expo gave his clients his take on what’s going on.

BOSCO

My dear friends:

“It is with deep regret that I shutting down Bosco’s Wedding Expo and I will not be producing shows this fall or winter. The last two years have been difficult but this year was by far the worst. The industry has changed and it’s beyond my control. The media has gotten so fragmented. When I started 18 years ago you ran an ad in the newspaper and the brides were there. Then everyone stopped reading the newspaper. So I moved on to direct mail and radio. With social media and The Knot the brides have too much to say and they are changing the game. They tell other brides don’t give anyone your real address or e-mail they will just dump junk mail on you. I would mail out 2-3 thousand postcards only to get half of them back in the mail. With every new car that is sold, comes satellite radio. I spent close to $18,000 last year on Pandora only to flush that money down the toilet. Advertising on Facebook and other social media was a joke. Nobody is listening to traditional radio even the vendors. I found myself spending more and more money with every show only to see the bridal count on a steady decline.

At the end of the day I was making just enough money to pay my bills and not pay myself a salary for 2 years. It kills me to stop doing something that I loved doing for so long. I’ve always said I don’t have vendor’s, I have friends in the wedding industry. You know who your friends are when you have a flood and have 32 inches of sewer water in your office. The vendors stood by me then and I came back bigger and better than ever. I was shocked when 31 of these crazy vendors threw me a surprise birthday party at Frankie and Johnny’s in the Bronx. Yes we were all part of one big family. Everyone knew that I had an open invitation after the shows. We would go to the diner and I would pick up the tab. What show producer does that? I built this company on relationships.

I have many friends who are bridal show producers from around the country. Everyone is facing the same issues. Even the show at the County Center was down by 100 brides this year. Then you have those who think they can do what I did so well. They are happy to take your money only to have a hand full of brides show up. Most are only doing shows to promote their wedding business which is such a conflict of interest. You got to know they are contacting the bride weeks before you even have the opportunity to meet them at the show. I’ve always felt I had a responsibility to the catering halls and the vendors to do the best possible job. I can deal with competition. I can’t compete with the changes in technology, social and traditional media.

I know many of you rely on me to promote your business. It kills me to make this decision, because I know I am letting you down. I want to thank you all for 18 years of support and friendship. I will be taking down the website at the end of the month. If I can help any of you at any time I can be reached at my new e-mail address, KenRabasco@Gmail.com . Please stay in touch.”


Sincerely,

Bosco

No one supporting tuxedos causing a slide in new products

A story we’re following for over 5 years shows the traditional business and use of men’s formal wear– tuxedos– in a steady decline. Approaching the most active time of the year in demand caused by peak season proms, weddings and black tie functions there is less promotion of tuxedos commensurate with decline in  producing new styles, caused by consolidation and departure from the business.
Sources familiar with the story including 40 year  publisher veteran, Jim Duhe, said the following:

“There was a time when headpieces for bridesmaids represented millions in revenue for manufacturers and retailers. Bridal magazine editors decided that they didn’t like showing bridesmaid headpieces. No one controlled them. No one forced them to do what they didn’t want to do.  Web sites and bloggers followed the information promoted by the print “experts.”  Bridesmaid headpiece sales declined year after year after year.  If you walk through NY Market this season, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single bridesmaid headpiece — not even one.

Seven years ago, almost every bride who wore a bridal gown also wore a headpiece or veil.  The number has dropped to below 80% today.  It isn’t just that Brides Magazine isn’t showing veils and headpieces, web sites and bloggers follow their lead.  Sales are declining every year and will continue to decline without advice from someone.

Magazines,web sites, and bloggers all agree that you no longer have to wear a tuxedo if your bride is wearing a formal gown.  Manufacturers and rental specialists exacerbate the problem with their own brand of stupidity.  Eventually, rental tuxedos will be almost extinct,” according to Duhe.

The news is alarming to small business owners who rely on tuxedo rentals to sustain their families. Many say they’ve spent a lifetime to grow their business and service their market. But since the end of American manufacturing companies like after six and Lord West and ongoing consolidation and production shift to China and the growth of big box operators like Men’s Wearhouse, independent stores who still make up a significant part of the market, struggle to survive.

BOLI

Traditional tuxedo users are finding the best stores in their area who update merchandise annually, provide excellent fittings and are able to quickly correct out-of-town measurements in a single visit. It’s doubtful whether the same customer will be able to fit themselves, have their event outfit arrive in a box and be satisfied with the results of online suppliers.

Duhe, an avid supporter of tuxedo rentals, feels the lack of advertising also affects the decline of editorial support by all media sources. Others who support the idea are members of the Wedding Water Cooler group, including Sheryl Davies who has helped plan weddings in the Canadian market for years. Recent discussions with Davies said the changes taking place in wedding planning shows a more relaxed approach, away from formality and towards a more casual set of rules, including the use of tuxedos.

The next wave of competition for renting tuxedos, including to Men’s Wearhouse who capture over 40% of brick and mortar rentals, is felt to come from online rentals, trying to deliver garments to the groom and his men in time for their wedding. Some online suppliers feel they’ll be able to sidestep the logistical challenges by delivering products way in advance, allowing end-users to have corrections made locally– through independently owned stores they’re competing with– in reality. The idea sounds good on paper but remains to be seen if it will actually work, especially among a more mature market who still support traditional weddings and black tie affairs.

 

 

eWedNewz 2015

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