The National Bridal Market, Chicago - our 19th Year!
By Rich Albanese
Posted on July 25 2013
Year after year, Chicago proves a great venue to see every major dress and accessory line - all on one floor. For us, it's been the most consistent market for opening new store accounts and networking with bridal industry professionals. Maybe that's why we haven't missed a show in nearly two decades! Despite less foot traffic in recent years, this market continues to showcase the best lines in the industry while attracting quality buyers from all over the U.S - plus, it's right in the middle of a great city where the food is really good. Here's a few tidbits for anyone attending the upcoming show:
> The Airport Shuttle from O'Hare stops at every major hotel near the Merchandise Mart and costs $32, compared to a cab, which is close to $100. The subway fare from O'Hare to the Merchandise Mart is only $2.25 but definitely not luggage-friendly, unless you enjoy carrying your suitcase up and down long, crowded flights of steps.
> If you want a hotel under the same roof as the show location, stay at the Holiday Inn. It may cost a little more than other hotels in the area but you'll never have to step outside. And they serve an excellent breakfast buffet in the lobby.
> If you like a morning stroll, there are many hotel options within a mile of the Merchandise Mart. Avoid the Hilton Garden Inn - the lobby restaurant, Weber Grill, has a scary smell that never goes away and the rooms are not what they should be. Here's my not-so-flattering review on hotels.com. The Residence Inn books quickly but if you can get a reasonable price, try it - the rooms are surprisingly big.
> The steak in Chicago is the real deal. If you want a top-notch steakhouse that embodies old Chicago (photos of Al Capone's friends and enemies consume an entire wall), Chicago Chop House, is the way to go. And if you're traveling alone, the dinner service at the bar is unbeatable.
> The fashion show has free drinks for all who attend but you will not get a seat unless you arrive before 6:00 pm. Amazingly, no matter how busy or slow any particular market is, there are never any open seats at the fashion show.
> Collecting catalogs may seem like a safe way to "shop" the market but there is no better place to make a purchasing decision than in the booth of that supplier. Company reps can quickly answer your questions, you can touch and feel the merchandise and the entire line is there! - unlike when sales reps visit your store with a limited selection of samples. Visitors to our booth interact with a wide variety of items in a short amount of time - an efficient and productive way to shop.
I look forward to these markets because this is the only face time I have with most of our Midwest clients. Plus, Chicago is a pretty nice destination for working a long weekend, with beer, steak and pasta on every corner. Hope to see you there!