Employees at Alfred Angelo’s corporate office in Delray Beach left the building en masse on Thursday, carrying boxes, plants and other personal belongings.
The scene came amid buzz on social media saying the bridal retailer, founded in 1933 by Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Vincent Piccione, is going out of business. From Twitter to online message boards, anxious brides posted queries and alerts, but few found answers and received no official response from the company with a national brand and reputation.
By Thursday afternoon, the company’s Delray corporate on the fourth floor of a building on Congress Avenue at Linton Boulevard, was void of employees. Some offices still had desks and supplies and framed posters of wedding dresses hung on the walls.
There were just two people at the headquarters, both sitting inside a boardroom behind the reception area. Both denied being employees of the company, refused to respond to questions or offer their names and asked a Palm Beach Post reporter to leave the building.
An employee of another business on the first floor, which faces the main entrance to the building, described a “mass exodus before lunchtime.”
“Everyone left one-by-one with cardboard boxes, plants,” said the employee, who asked not to be named. “One of them said it they were all fired today … It was so bizarre.”
Around the country, social media platforms told a similar story. Some photos on social media showed employees at stores across the country posting signs suggesting those locations, too, were closing for good.
Company representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday. The company did not address the closure talks on any of its social media channels, including its own website or its Twitter or Facebook accounts.
In fact, Alfred Angelo’s website advertised a sale the company said was designed to “make way for our new Fall 2017 collections.” The website continued to boast its wedding, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses are available at “1,400 retailers in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as more than 60 Alfred Angelo Bridal Signature Stores located across America.”
In a March press release, the company billed itself as “the world’s leading manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of beautifully designed wedding gowns, bridesmaids and social occasion dresses.”
Florida state corporate records list Stephen Czech, the Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer of Conn.-based Czech Asset Management, as Alfred Angelo’s president and sole director. Czech could not be reached for comment.
At the Boynton Beach store, located just over three miles from the company’s corporate headquarters, employees were locking the doors as customers entered and exited the store.
Boynton Beach resident Jessica Irsay, who is a bridesmaid for a wedding in November, said employees inside the store told her if her preordered dress wasn’t at the store yet, it wasn’t coming.
Store employees gave her the number of an attorney to call in order to try to get her money back. She said she ordered the dress a month and a half ago and had already paid for it in full.
“I know (the bride) is definitely freaking out right now,” said Irsay, sister of the groom.
Bob Tulp of Boynton Beach successfully picked up his two dresses for his nieces. Employees were very helpful, Tulp said.
Other anxious brides took to Twitter on Thursday to sound off on the status of their orders and the lack of information coming from the company. Some brides said they had already ordered and paid for dresses, but had yet to receive them.
It was unclear what would happen to those orders.
“You need to let people know whats going to happen with orders that have been placed but not yet received,” Megan Cohen wrote to the company on Twitter. “Help us out here.”
Alfred Angelo “really needs to be reaching out to all brides and brides maids before closing their doors,” Maggie Klasen wrote in a Tweet. “Finding out 4 hours before you guys close your doors for good is a little scary when I don’t have my dress.”
Sandy Malone, a destination wedding planner and star of TLC’s reality show “Wedding Island,” took to Twitter to urge brides and bridesmaids to “run” to Alfred Angelo stores to pick up their dresses.
Some bridal stores across the country were offering to help customers who were left without dresses. One Chicago-area shop, which sold Alfred Angelo’s dresses, told customers by email that it would give customers credits or full-refunds.
Staff writer Elliott Wenzler contributed to this report.