Running of the Brides, the infamous, annual Filene’s Basement sale where brides-to-be madly dash for deeply-discounted wedding gowns, (as seen above from last year's sale at Boston's Hynes Convention Center) may have run its course, as the chain with roots dating back to 1909 continues to be dissolved.
It’s been a sad saga since Filene's Basement, the American retailer famed for its high-spirited Running of the Brides franchise — which sees shoppers line up at the crack of dawn, dress up and cheer as they storm the racks of bridal gowns — and sibling retailer Syms, known for its tagline "an educated consumer is our best customer," announced they were facing the ultimate markdown: Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Fast forward to this week, and the indefinite postponement of a scheduled auction to sell off the intellectual property of Filene’s Basement and parent company Syms Corp. until creditors can agree on a plan to close out the bankruptcy case.
Other assets include house brands such as Stanley Blacker, Maine Bay and the Running of the Brides event, and one auction was already previously postponed to buy more time for additional offers to be submitted.
“While there were significant expressions of interest and numerous bids submitted, the debtors and their creditor representatives are in the midst of plan negotiations that may contemplate other alternatives for those brands,” commented Jack Hazan of Hilco Streambank, the Newton advisory firm hired to oversee the sale of the intellectual property, to the Boston Globe.
Macy’s has owned the Filene's Basement trademark since 1988 through predecessor company Federated Department Stores, licensing the name to Syms, which purchased the Basement in 2009, before it filed for bankruptcy and liquidated its assets. Macy’s now contends the license agreement can be assigned to another company only if the Basement’s assets are sold and the business remains intact, according to court documents. “Given the gradual liquidation of the debtors’ assets, this has obviously not come to pass,” the documents state.
“There are other assets that are likely to be auctioned off, but the Filene’s Basement trademark has several issues ... and we haven’t resolved (them),” said Hazan to the Boston Herald. “It might be that we hold (the Running of the Brides trademark) back (from the sale) because it’s so connected to Filene’s Basement.”
The buyer of the Running of the Brides intellectual property will receive “all of the history and good will that comes along with it,” he told the Wall Street Journal, and thus would be free to reinstate the ROTB event under their ownership. “We’re confident that someone’s going to pick this up,” Hazan said of the one of the most famous (and more fun than Black Friday) sales events in U.S. retail history. “We’ve had good interest in this already, in all of the brands actually.”
“Either way,” concluded WSJ, “customers currently on the hunt for their wedding-day ensembles might want to look elsewhere for now, since there almost certainly won’t be Running of the Brides sales this dress-shopping season, Hazan said. But keep your fingers crossed and your lawn chairs, matching T-shirts and running shoes ready. By the time your boyfriend actually buys a ring, the Running of the Brides event could have risen from the ashes.”
Below, watch the 2010 Running of the Brides event now-shuttered NYC's Union Square: