NEW YORK CITY–Founded in 1941, Kleinfeld is the largest luxury bridal retailer in the world, with the largest selection of couture American and European designers. For more than 70 years, Kleinfeld has been dedicated to providing affluent and discerning brides with an unparalleled selection, exceptional service and personal attention to detail. Kleinfeld is the first stop on the bridal journey and often the last: its attention to service has made it the most word-of-mouth resource for wedding gowns and accessories. The 35,000 square-foot flagship salon is located in the heart of Chelsea, New York City, and is host to The Learning Channel’s hit show, Say Yes to the Dress. Kleinfeld, the leader in bridal fashion, is owned by Ronald Rothstein, Mara Urshel and Wayne Rogers of M*A*S*H fame.
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: How has Kleinfeld become an institution over the years? What is the company philosophy in terms of both buying dresses and selling to customers?
Ronald Rothstein: It’s not about selling a dress for us, but about helping our brides find “THE” dress.We differentiate ourselves by having a unique product and the most diverse designer bridal selection in the world. But really it’s all about the Kleinfeld experience.
Starting in the 1950s, Kleinfeld has been the first bridal retailer in America to carry wedding dresses from North America, Europe and South America. We are a one-stop shop to see gowns from all over the world!
The Kleinfeld experience includes making the bride feel extremely comfortable and excited at the same time. We treat all our brides as if they are one of our favorite relatives. When they walk in the door, they become a part of the Kleinfeld family. They are greeted and advised by our trained employees, who listen to everything and anything the bride wishes. We have been a word of mouth business since 1941 with the best selection and the ultimate experience.
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: I know that buying the dress is very emotional for the bride and her mother—how do you handle the situation? Do you have a particular selling philosophy?
Ronald Rothstein: We respect the fact that we are stepping into the brides’ life where we help create a lifetime, memorable moment. Every bride has a different set of expectations and we try to exceed their expectations.
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: Can you please advise how you came to sell shoes,accessories, and stationery? What is the optimum time needed for selecting, buying and altering a dress?
Ronald Rothstein: It all varies on the time, but the more time a bride allows for shopping the more options she has. Our appointments last 1.5 hours. Ideally for alterations the dress arrives 2 months before the wedding date to make sure that the bride has enough time on average for about 3-5 fittings.
We are a one-stop shop for the bride and want to offer her everything in bridal fashion that is possible to have on the big day. So we offer her jewelry, shoes, veils, headpieces, bridesmaid gifts, handbags and garters.
Stationery has become important for us because it sets the theme that coordinates with the gown and the venue. We just wanted to help our brides in that aspect of the wedding planning process as well!
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: You sell 18,000 dresses a year? What kind of sales staff does this entail? Do you have any down seasons or is it crazy throughout the year?
Ronald Rothstein: We sell approximately 10,000 dresses out of the 18,000 brides that come through our doors a year. We are always in season; there is never really a down season. Brides travel from all over the world and we book about 5 weeks in advance. We have 24 bridal consultants and 5 time slots per day. Our consultants know every sample gown in the store and exactly what will work on each body type.
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: How much of your customer base is American? How much is foreign? Since I have an international wedding site and blog, it would be interesting to attract more foreigners to your store? What do you think?
Ronald Rothstein: About 80% of our business comes from brides located in North America and Canada. The other 20% are foreign brides, mostly from Europe, South America and Asia.
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: In light of that, please provide the person that people should reach out to when they express an interest in making an appointment. Does it start with a phone call or an email?
Ronald Rothstein: The majority of our brides book their appointments on our website: https://www.kleinfeldbridal.com/index.cfm?pid=40. Or they can call the head of our customer service department, Miyako Hannan at + 1 646-633-4302.
We advise our brides to make an account on our website and browse our dress gallery. She can save her favorites in “her closet”. We recommend printing these and bringing them to her appointment. It gives the consultant a little more insight with finding the perfect dress in the appropriate budget!
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: I really want to explain why shopping at Kleinfeld is such a unique and unforgettable experience and the place to go.
Ronald Rothstein: Kleinfeld is made of 260 employees that all smile and say hello to each and every person that walks through our doors. We are warm, engaging and caring people who are extremely knowledgeable in bridal fashion. We all enjoy pleasing the customer no matter what!
Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner: Please tell me the number of markets that you are featured on The Learning Channel. I would also love to know how the show came to be. What are the highlights of the show? What are some of the funny things that have happened?
Ronald Rothstein: Say Yes to the Dress airs in approximately 180 countries.
Various networks approached us for a reality show and we turned down all of them. It wasn’t until we met the people at Half Yard Productions that we decided we wanted to be in business with them. They were intelligent, creative and trustworthy.
Say Yes to the Dress definitely captures great moments that happen in our store and so many of our brides with big personalities and great stories to share. We’ve had some wonderful people agree to be featured on the show over the years. Kelly Ripa was featured in an episode as a bridal consultant for the day. She could barely carry the dresses because they were all as big as her haha! We’ve also been lucky to have Kristen Chenoweth, Kathy Griffin, Jillian Michaels, Seth Meyers and more talented stars make appearances to help our brides find the perfect dress.
The next time you are in New York, do drop in at Kleinfeld Bridal: 110 West 20th Street New York NY 10011 +1 646-633-4300