Manolo says, the Kleinfeld’s they are moving!
t is like losing the Dodgers all over again: Kleinfeld, the storied Brooklyn wedding gown emporium that has festooned generations of American brides, is moving to – horrors! – Manhattan.
Officials at the store, the largest designer wedding-dress outlet in the country, said yesterday that they planned to shut down the store that has long drawn hordes of gown-seekers to Bay Ridge and transfer operations, including the 185 employees, to 20th Street near Avenue of the Americas this summer.
The new store, just west of Manhattan’s Ladies’ Mile shopping district, will be 35,000 square feet, with roughly double the selling space of the current store to accommodate what officials say is a rapidly expanding business.
Ronald Rothstein, a co-owner, said that Kleinfeld Bridal had looked to stay in Brooklyn, where the business maintained a Madison Avenue sophistication at the same nondescript Bay Ridge corner after opening as a fur store in 1941. But the complex requirements of selling thousands of high-priced silk, tulle and lace confections each year – including the multiple fittings – and the fact that about 80 percent of the future brides work in Manhattan, Mr. Rothstein said, justified the move.
Over the years, Kleinfeld developed an international reputation for its enormous selection of designer wedding gowns and came to be considered the ultimate destination for pampered, one-stop shopping with an old-world emphasis on personal attention. Many of the brides, accompanied by family and friends, came from New York and neighboring states, but others routinely arrived from across the country and around the globe.
The store, which turned exclusively to wedding wear in 1968, went through financial difficulties and changed ownership in the 1990′s before it was acquired at the end of the decade by Mr. Rothstein and his partners. They include Mara Urshel, a fashion executive, and Wayne Rogers, the actor who is probably best known for his role as Trapper John on early episodes of “M*A*S*H.”
The company is now doing well, Mr. Rothstein said, with bookings for wedding gowns up by 25 percent this year. An average sale, store officials said, is in the $4,000 range.
But Kleinfeld has outgrown its space, Mr. Rothstein said, necessitating the move.