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Filene’s “Running of the Brides” to go up for auction

Even if you haven’t gotten married or planned a wedding in the last several years, you may be familiar with the annual “Running of the Brides” event put on by off-price retailer Filene’s Basement. Although the company filed for bankruptcy in November and closed its last store in December, the tradition could see a rebirth when it goes up for auction in May.

The “Running of the Brides” is being offered as intellectual property that New Jersey-based parent company Syms Corporation is auctioning off as part of its bankruptcy filing. It will also auction off the domain names, customer data for almost 2 million shoppers and a perpetual royalty-free license for the Filene’s Basement trademark, along with other brands the company owns.

The “Running of the Brides” has been a tradition since 1947, when Filene’s Basement first began offering deep discounts on designer wedding gowns in a one-day sale. Brides and their bridesmaids, friends, sisters and mothers would line up the night before outside the retail stores in hopes of scoring the perfect dresses, marked hundreds or even thousands of dollars below their original prices. Many groups of shoppers would wear matching colors along with whistles to communicate among the heavy crowds. When the doors opened, shoppers would run through the store, whipping as many dresses as they could off racks. From there, they would try on dresses in the aisles and trade those they didn’t want with other shoppers. When a shopper found a dress she wanted, others would applaud.

Filene’s filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and was bought by Syms, which filed for bankruptcy a few months ago. Already some 20 parties have expressed interest in buying the rights to the sale and its name, meaning that the much-loved tradition could start up again in the coming year.

Source: Business Week, “Filene’s ‘Running of the Brides’ Marks to Be Sold at Auction,” Victoria Slind-Flor, April 2, 2012

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