STRATFORD, Conn. — Erica La Ferlita enjoyed the hustle and bustle of working at The Gap for 19 years, but she’s finding some secret perks to owning her own business, the recently opened The Savvy Bride in Stratford.
“I just sit here and I look at all the beautiful dresses,” she said, relaxing at her desk in the center of the Paradise Green shop’s showroom. “I’m just in awe at the beauty of them.”
And there’s more to those satiny stunners than just beauty: All of La Ferlita’s wares are discontinued sample gowns, so she can sell them at a fraction of their original prices.
The idea is simple and yet — well — savvy.
When a bride-to-be visits a bridal boutique, she may try on dozens of sample gowns before finding her perfect dress. The shop then orders the dress in her size.
So what happens when a designer discontinues a style?
“The stores have all these samples, and they don’t know what to do with them,” La Ferlita said.
Enter The Savvy Bride. La Ferlita buys the samples — which have never been worn in a wedding, only tried on — for less and passes the savings down to her customers. Most sell for 30 percent to 50 percent less than their original prices.
While the average bride spends about $1,500 to $2,500 on her dress, The Savvy Bride gowns run from $400 to about $1,900.
The store carries many of the features today’s bride is looking for — from lace and straps to illusion sleeves and keyhole backs.
La Ferlita, who also lives in Stratford, said she didn’t have a great experience picking out her wedding dress, so she goes the extra mile to make sure her clients feel special. The store works by appointment only so she can give each bride her full attention.
And that’s much of the fun, she said.
“I love the puzzle of figuring out which dress will they like,” she said. “Since I didn’t have a good experience, I like to make it a good experience for someone else.”