Local bridal store, boutique experience shipping delays due to coronavirus

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) -- Local business owners scramble to adjust to delayed shipments from Chinese manufacturers.

The delays come after the Chinese New Year was extended in an effort to fight the coronavirus leaving many factories empty or short-staffed.

Prom season is right around the corner.

"We've stocked over 400 on our racks of all different sizes. We go up to a Size 32. We have all of the favorite colors," said Lu Ann Vander Zanden, owner and manager of Bridal Elegance and Formalwear in Kaukauna.

Vander Zanden urges women to start searching for the perfect dress sooner rather than later, as the coronavirus slows down shipping from Chinese manufacturers.

"General delivery we can't guarantee anything, and the factories won't tell us anything," said Vander Zanden.

That also applies to wedding gowns. Bridal Elegance and Formalwear typically recommends that brides pick out their dress between six and eight months before their wedding day, but with the potential delays, that recommendation is now up to ten months ahead of time.

"Nobody wants to wait until the last minute because generally you will have alterations that you need to prepare for," said Vander Zanden.

An email to Zen Salon and Boutique of Appleton outlines delays in a recent order of spring clothing placed last month. It reads in part: "We have been informed that due to the Coronavirus Outbreak, our sewing companies in China have pushed back our ETAs for shipments and there is no exact date of arrival at the moment."

"Horrible, because we depend on that as well to help the salon survive," said Sherri Burgess-Olson, assistant manager at Zen Salon and Boutique of Appleton. "Our boutique is so unique, because we only order certain things, a certain amount of things."

That shipment expected to arrive in March is now on hold until at least May. It creates concerns about empty shelves with the winter clothing now on sale at 50-percent off.

Signs inside of the business let customers know what is going on.

"It's just waiting and selling what we have and praying," said Burgess-Olson.

Vander Zanden tells Action 2 News the Chinese factories have assured her that items already ordered should be delivered within five days of the expected date.

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