Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How Not to Close a Business

Lori's Bridal & Formal Wear in Cold Spring, Minnesota, was open for business last Friday. I read a news item about a young woman who had gone in on that to have her white shoes dyed ivory.

Loris' Bridal website says that the business has been around since 1991, and speaks of the service's "strong beliefs in personal attention, unique style of caring, and professionalism...."

Saturday, a sign on the door read, "This business has closed due to the economy." There was a phone number listed. The voice mail recording said, "Lori's Bridal & Formal Wear would like to thank you in advance for your patience while we are working to resolve the issues at hand," and had no room for more messages on Monday. The latest news is that the voice mail is taking messages again.

Police Force as Delivery Service: Not Good for Image

Also, the Cold Spring chief of police found the store's owner and got her permission to enter the store with a former employee of the store. They recovered 37 dresses.

Lori's Bridal's cell phone number doesn't work any more, and to date there have been 19 complaints filed with Minnesota and North Dakota Better Business Bureaus.

An area newspaper's article on the fiasco said, "consumers who have a complaint about Lori's Bridal should contact the attorney general's office by going to www.ag.state.mn.us and clicking on the 'consumer complaint form' on the right-hand side of the screen.

"People can also call the attorney general's office at 800-657-3787 or mail a complaint to 1400 Bremer Tower 445, Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101."

A Lesson to be Learned: Don't Lock up Wedding Dresses

Running a business isn't easy, and sometimes a promising enterprise doesn't work out. As much as I sympathize with the difficulties of a small business owner, I don't think that the owner of Lori's made a wise choice when she bolted.

The good news is that 37 wedding dresses were recovered, and will be available for pickup "Cold Spring City Hall from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday," according to a St. Cloud Times article.

The bad news is that any hope that the owner had of getting back in business, at least in that area, is probably gone. I don't know why she closed the store and dropped out of sight so abruptly, but I doubt that the area will soon forget the dozens of people she left with upcoming weddings and special events - and no dresses.

That's not the sort of publicity anyone wants.

Information from

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you look at their website, most of it hasn't been updated in over 4 years, and in some cases 7 years! I mean that should have been a red flag to someone...all of the pictures on the website are from 5 or 6 years ago (and I know this because I work at another bridal store and recognize the pictures). Looks like she's had problems for some time...doesn't sound like just an economy problem--sounds like a mismanagement problem!

BNS said...

And here I thought that only airlines closed up shop abruptly these days, leaving customers stranded and with no information. I hope that Lori's Bridal Shop turns out to be an isolated case, and is not a preview of things to come. Given the state of the economy, who knows...

Bobbie

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous,

I see what you mean. I didn't catch the significance of the styles shown - I'd never make it as a bridal and formal wear shop owner/manager.

About management, I'm inclined to agree. That 'due to the economy' statement didn't ring true, IMO.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

BNS,

It's not isolated - there was another case in the St. Cloud, Minnesota, area recently, where a bridal shop owner dropped off the radar. In that case, the woman made the mistake of setting up shop again in another state. And, got arrested: something to do with taking people's money and running, I understand.

"Given the state of the economy" ? I read and listen to the news, too: but I also caught a recent issue of INC. magazine - cover story about a fellow who made use of a recession, to build a company.

The people I'll be watching are the ones in resort towns north of here. Gasoline prices being unlikely to go down before the end of tourist season, this could be a rough summer.

We'll see.

Jess said...

Interesting article. I know someone who is struggling with her business and is thinking about selling instead of closing shop, like Lori's. She's hoping that someone with better know-how and money will help it turn around. Her options are open and is looking to try to sell online. Any suggestions?

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Jess,

If I understand your comment/question, your friend is thinking of selling a business online. I'm no expert, but two words come to mind: due diligence. Or, 'be careful.'

I'm not an expert on the nuts and bolts of business closures, so I'll just leave a couple of links that may be worth following.

I have, however, logged over a half-century's worth of major life transitions, and may be able to suggest a few tips for handling what'll be going on inside the business owner's head.

* Don't panic/stay (fairly) calm. This is a transition, not a tragedy. And, not a failure. Some business don't turn a profit - but are still learning experiences. (Not a platitude - it's happened with me.)

* Look forward to what may come next - and enjoy memories of what went before. (I suspect that there are some good ones.)

Now, more practically - and obviously - go to the 'experts.'

I'm a bit of a traditionalist, and so tend to go with established institutions. Like the Small Business Administration (SBA). If the SBA doesn't have the savvy you need, someone in the organization may know someone who does.

Best of all, much of the information and advice is free (okay - your taxes paid for it - you know what I mean).

I've had good experience talking with SBA people - my style is to use the Web or phone books to find the nearest office, start talking with the front desk - saying what I'm looking for - and follow leads from there.

Three links (all national level, but you can dig down to your area).

SBA Home Page

SBA Small Business Planner
(the "Getting Out" section is what you're looking for)

SBA Small Business Planner - Getting Out

Best wishes.

Jess said...

Thanks for your advice. I agree, due diligence is very important.

Yes, she wants to try to sell it online. She feels that she will have wider exposure, which I agree with. I think the one she's looking at is called BizTrader.com. She would like to go through a broker, but only if she struggles to sell it by herself. But even then, don't brokers also post on websites? I'll tell her to check out the websites you suggested.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Jess,

Thanks for the good words - and the additional detail.

Agreed - selling online (practically anything online, for that matter) gives wider exposure. That's why I'm focusing almost exclusively on the online world for publication and marketing.

I'll repeat that URL as a link: BizTrader.com. I've run into the name, but know almost nothing about it.

If you will, I'd appreciate it if you leave a comment here, when there's progress with this business transition.

I think quite a few people will be interested to learn more.

Again, Thanks!

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