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Providing a full bridal experience

Tie the Knot will open a second location in Green Bay’s Rail Yard, transform other property into an off-the-rack option

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January 27, 2023

GREEN BAY – Since opening in 2006, Tie the Knot Bridal has helped thousands of brides find their dream wedding gown.

In an industry that is constantly changing as styles come in and out of popularity, owner Jessica Van Gorden said so too has the store’s focus on the overall experience of wedding dress shopping.

Purchasing the business in 2021, Van Gorden said it has always been her vision to bring Tie the Knot Bridal into modern day – which has prompted an expansion to downtown Green Bay.

“When I purchased (the store), I knew I wanted to make a lot of changes to the business – bring it into modern times, update our logo and update our website,” she said. “I knew I wanted to move it into a space that was a bit trendier and modern for brides who are looking for that true wedding dress shopping experience like they would find in a bigger city.” 

Van Gorden said the first step was updating the bridal store’s branding.

“Once we got our branding done, we started looking for the right building to move to, and we came across the spot in the Rail Yard, which we’re super excited about,” she said.

Van Gorden said part of what makes the downtown Green Bay location the perfect spot for Tie the Knot Bridal’s second location is the opportunities it provides brides for a full-day experience.

“Our brides, when they’re coming dress shopping, whether they’re coming during the week or on a weekend, they’re looking for a whole day experience,” she said. “They want to come and find their dress and either go get brunch or drinks after, or get lunch, depending on what time of day they come.”

The all-encompassing day, Van Gorden said, is a unique thing.

“They typically have a big group with them – their mom, possibly their mother-in-law, some of their good friends or sisters,” she said. “Everyone is together, so it’s more of an event.”

Van Gorden said the rationale behind the Rail Yard location is having other businesses around – to help support that full-day experience.

“We wanted to find some other local businesses we could partner with to support our local area in that endeavor with brides,” she said. “We love that there are restaurants downtown, there are wine bars, and a bunch of things that a bride and her family could do either before or after her shopping experience with us.”

Van Gorden said the visibility of the Broadway location is a plus as well.

“We love that we’re going to have some good signage up front,” she said. 

Van Gorden said the space itself has great character.

“The space has beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows, which is great for displaying our dresses,” she said. “There are some cool old columns in it and things you wouldn’t find in a new build, per se.”

Van Gorden said the openness of the space affords them the opportunity to make it however they want.

“There were a lot of things that checked our boxes we were pumped about,” she said. “It has parking, which is another great thing when you’re right downtown. Sometimes, you don’t get that.”

Two locations, two different focuses
Van Gorden said the expansion to the downtown space includes a complete relocation of the store’s current business to the Rail Yard.

“It’s going to be everything we currently have at the Military Avenue store – all of our wedding dresses that are orderable,” she said.

The Military Avenue store will be transformed into Tie the Knot Off the Rack.

“Those bridal gowns are essentially our samples we have to buy for brides to try on in the store,” she said. “They are dresses that have either been discontinued or are ones we are trying to move out to bring in new inventory. Our minimums for designers are pretty high – every year, we have to buy a certain number of dresses from them to stay current. So, we have a lot of inventory we try to move through.”

In addition to moving inventory, Van Gorden said the Off the Rack store will also target a different demographic.
“Our current store starts at around $1,500 and goes up to about $5,000 for wedding dresses,” she said. “The Off the Rack store will start around $500, and everything will be under $2,000.”

Not only will the Off the Rack option appeal to brides with tighter budgets, but Van Gorden said it will also target brides who are under a time constraint.

“It’s going to provide brides that have a quicker turnaround time and don’t have time to order a dress, a lot of options,” she said. “All of the dresses at the Off the Rack store you can take home the same day you buy them. There is no ordering wait time.”

Van Gorden said the store has offered a handful of sample sales during the year to cycle the store’s inventory, which was always well attended.

“We would actually take all of our current inventory off the floor and move all of the Off the Rack dresses up onto the floor – it was quite a process to do,” she said. “We have found over the past year and a half that those sales were so popular. I think our spring one from last year, we saw more than 80 brides in four days.”

Van Gorden said the demand prompted the move to create the Off the Rack store as a permanent offering.

“We get people inquiring all the time that have budgets below $1,000,” she said. “They can’t shop at our current store and we want to be able to service those brides. Looking at how our past sales have gone, we know there are people out there looking in this budget and those who are wanting something with a little quicker turnaround time. So, we know there’s a demand out there. And this store is going to allow us to service even more brides in their journey we were missing before.”

With the exception of periodic sample sales, Van Gorden said the Off the Rack store will be a first of its kind in the Northeast Wisconsin area.

“There are some stores that do what we did, or they’ll have a sale a couple of times a year to try to move through some inventory, but nobody has a true Off the Rack brick-and-mortar location right now in Northeast Wisconsin,” she said. “You’d have to go down to places like Milwaukee, Madison or Chicago to find that. I think it’s going to be cool to bring something new to the area.”

More people downtown
Van Gorden said not only will the move downtown offer its brides more options for things to do for a full-day experience, but the traffic also the store will bring to downtown will help other local businesses in the downtown area.

“I know those in the downtown area are super excited that we’re going to be bringing more people downtown,” she said. “We see anywhere from 100-150 brides a month. So, if you multiply that by their five to seven guests that they’re bringing – that’s a lot of people coming into the downtown area and going to those businesses, so they’re excited.”

Van Gorden said the feedback the store has received since the announcement has been very positive.

“Our customers have been really supportive throughout the whole process,” she said. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from people that were excited about the Off the Rack option, saying things like, ‘we were never able to shop at your store because it was out of our price point.’ They are excited that they were going to have a location that would have a great experience, but also a dress in that price point. So, it’s all been positive so far, and we are so excited to see where it goes.”

Right timing
Van Gorden said her years of experience as a wedding photographer have given her a peek at that wedding dress shopping experience many brides nowadays are looking for.

“Most of the brides I would work with would be going to Milwaukee, Madison or Chicago to find their dress because there’s really nobody up in this area that’s providing a store that has that trendy look – that’s what brides want right now,” she said.

With the new space, Van Gorden said Tie the Knot will be able to provide that for brides.

“They want to be able to go somewhere that has the pretty chandeliers and big windows and also a good inventory of dresses,” she said. “We’ve done a ton of work over the past year with our inventory – bringing in new designers from bigger cities.”

The final piece of that puzzle was the space.

“I’m excited to finally provide brides in Northeast Wisconsin with an option to have that bigger city shopping feel,” she said. “For those brides who think in order to have that experience they need to leave the city and go somewhere else – we want to keep those people and that money in Green Bay because obviously, it’s better for the local economy. That’s what I’m most excited about – being able to provide a new option.”

As it currently stands, Van Gorden said an April 1 opening is planned.

“It could be a week earlier, it could be a week later,” she said. “It depends on when they get everything finished. But that’s what we’re keeping our fingers crossed for – the first weekend in April.”

Van Gorden said grand opening events are in the works for both the new Rail Yard location and the Off the Rack location on Military Avenue.

“We’ll do the full ribbon cutting at a new spot,” she said. “We may actually do one at the Off the Rack one, too. We are planning a grand opening party at the new store, and then for the Tie the Knot Off the Rack location, we’re going to have a big sample sale. So one of our biannual sales at that location will coincide with a grand opening. We don’t have a date yet – It’ll be sometime in April though.”

Van Gorden said she has a lot of ideas in mind for both spaces.

“We’re planning on photographing our dresses downtown and bringing that whole downtown feel into what we’re putting out there in the world,” she said. “I have a lot of ideas for a look book or some type of takeaway they would get when they purchase their dress with some coupons for downtown businesses for them to get 20% off their lunch or 20% off at a wine bar – whatever it is afterward. None of that is started yet, so I don’t have anything set in stone to show you. I’m hoping by the time we open after I have some conversations with people, we’ll be able to provide them with a map or ideas on where to go.”

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