As New York anticipated the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, Kleinfeld owners were busy preparing for the massive storm that was sure to hit. The operations staff took precautions, looking after the store when the complete loss of power deactivated all forms of security. As the storm came to an end and news of the destruction weighed heavily on the city and outlying boroughs, the realization that life goes on in the world of the bridal business began. Frantic brides scheduled to be married within the week scrambled to get in touch with anyone from Kleinfeld, searching for a way to pick up their finished gown. Because of the severe power outages looming over lower Manhattan, store operations, the computer system, and phone lines were non-existent. It was only by chance that on Sunday night Nitsa Glezelis, Kleinfeld Director of Alterations, had printed the information for each bride on the fitting schedule that week, making it possible to find each dress. With flashlights and ladders in the pitch black stock room, the operations team climbed through hundreds of dresses stored on our rotating Railex system.
Through all forms of social media, email, and the personal cell phone numbers Kleinfeld owners list on their business cards, brides were able to reach out in hopes that they would be able to walk down the aisle in their perfect dress. Kleinfeld immediately sprung into action to accommodate over 50 brides that were scheduled to be married within the week. Owners, Mara Urshel, Ronnie Rothstein and customer service manager, Emily Duke posted their personal cell phone numbers on our Facebook page and website as another form of contact for our brides. Using Ronnie’s Upper East Side apartment as a command center, despite the crippling city transportation, communication, and power systems all brides were kept notified on the current situation.
Alterations employees arrived by car service ready to help but with no power this task was seemingly impossible. With the help of close friend Father John Kamas, Mara and Ronnie connected with Reverend Philip Kelly of the St. Francis Church on 96th street in Manhattan, who graciously offered the basement social room of the Church as a work place. Before gas shortages could strike the city, the operations team packed up and loaded their cars and trucks full of sewing machines, pressing equipment, and gowns and made their way uptown. In only three days fourteen members of our alterations staff worked diligently fitting, altering, pressing, and completing the tasks of 225 employees who normally run Kleinfeld on a daily basis.
With help from Remziye Perkin at Pinpoint Bridal, a custom alterations boutique on the Upper East Side, the staff was able to contact all the brides, book fitting appointments, and utilize her sewing equipment. At the St. Francis Church, brides arrived for their final fittings where the alterations team sewed, pressed, beaded, and finalized each gown. Kleinfeld owners, Mara and Ronnie personally housed employees in their own apartments while the operations team stayed in the store, transforming the fitting rooms into mini dorms.
The selfless dedication of our Kleinfeld team is the reason why Kleinfeld was able to successfully accommodate our brides during one of the most catastrophic storms New York has seen in decades. With a “show must go on” attitude, over 50 brides were able to walk down the aisle in their perfect wedding dress despite the heavy toll Hurricane Sandy took on its path of destruction. The teamwork and camaraderie among the Kleinfeld staff as well as the amazing leadership of Kleinfeld owners Mara and Ronnie, a positive outcome was able to shine through a truly unfortunate situation. With over 70 years of bridal business under our belt and thousands of brides, the Kleinfeld team has never missed a wedding. We are proud to be a team that puts our wonderful brides above all!
The Kleinfeld Alterations Team at St. Francis Church
– Lindsey Groginski