Fallout from bridal retailer Alfred Angelo’s closing continued Friday. But the abrupt shutdown and bankruptcy lquidation filing was not a total surprise to the few customers who reacted to Internet murmurs of the company’s demise as recently as a few weeks ago.
“Is your store in Henderson, NV closing?” one customer asked in a June 29 post on Twitter.
“It is not!” the company immediately responded. “However, we are having a warehouse clearance sale.”
That same day, however, Alfred Angelo was sued for failing to pay rent at its Delray Beach headquarters. The company’s landlord says it is owed $45,214 in rent and late fees, according to a lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County circuit court.
In the days leading up to the closure, several brides also took to Twitter to raise questions about the company’s alteration services, saying they were told they would no longer be able to have dresses altered in Alfred Angelo’s stores.
“We apologize for the inconvenience we have caused,” the company wrote in response to one customer in a July 10 Twitter post. “We would love to provide you with the name and contact information for a recommended seamstress.”
What are my options now?
Jack Gillis, the spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit research and advocacy group, offered these tips for brides and bridesmaids left without dresses:
Call your credit card company. Now.
If you paid for your dress with a credit card, you may be able to get a refund, he said. “If they have paid with a credit card, they need to immediately contact their credit card company and refuse payment,” Gillis said. “That is the first thing.”
Keep an eye on your local the store. In bankruptcy situations, stores will often for a period of time for “liquidation sales,” Gillis said. “It is important that if you live near one of these stores, keep your eyes open,” Gillis said. “If one’s dress is in there, theoretically it can be marked as such.” There may also be a chance to pick up a new dress for at a deep discount during one of these sales, he added.
Don’t count on a refund. “What consumers can do is attempt to get in line for any proceedings as a result of the bankruptcy,” Gillis said. “However, consumers or buyers of the product are usually the last in line. Other creditors are going to eat up whatever money or value may be left I the company.”
As of Friday afternoon, the retailer founded in 1933 had yet to address the closings. There was no mention of the closure on any of its social media channels, including its own website or its Twitter or Facebook accounts. Its website still advertised a sale on dresses even after stores had closed.
In an ironic twist, there was a “we’re hiring” sign in front of the Boynton Beach store.
However, court records show Alfred Angelo filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Friday. The petition, filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Florida, said the company had $50 million to $100 million in liabilities and as many as 25,000 creditors. The company estimated it has assets of $10 million to $50 million, according to the petition.
Alfred Angelo billed itself as “the world’s leading manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of beautifully designed wedding gowns, bridesmaids and social occasion dresses.”
The company was known for its collection of Disney Fairy Tale wedding dresses and for its replica of the wedding dress worn by Bella in the Twilight movie, said Julie Albaugh, an industry expert with the website weddingmarketnews.com.
Alfred Angelo’s closure doesn’t just impact the companies owned and operated stores, Albaugh said. Hundreds of small bridal shops across the country also carried Alfred Angelo’s dresses.
“It is not just the Alfred Angelo stores we are taking about, it is also the bridal shops that carried that line, and they don’t know if they can fulfill those orders,” Albaugh said.
It is not clear how many brides may be impacted by Alfred Angelo’s closure. In terms of size, the company was one of two main national retailers, competing with David’s Bridal, Albaugh said.
“When you take Alfred Angelo out of it, you take a substantial amount of stores out of the picture,” Albaugh said. “They had some really nice dresses.”
At the company’s Boynton Beach store, located just under 4 miles from the Delray headquarter building, shoppers scrambled Thursday to pick up gowns before the doors closed for good.
Brides and bridesmaids said they were upset that the company didn’t notify them about the closure, but expressed sympathy for store employees.
“The situation is not just bad for brides,” bride Jessica Coggins said as she fought off tears. “I feel bad for these people in here. They are out of a job.”
Bride Shawna Cmar ordered her dress in April. She was told by store employees on Thursday that the dress had been shipped to the address of a house she had just vacated.
“They should have called their customers,” said Cmar, who spent more than $3,000 on her dress. “I think it’s crazy. Not having enough time is not an excuse. You knew you were broke a while ago. You’re going bankrupt, that didn’t happen overnight.”
Bride Teri Mckerlie found out on Facebook that the chain was closing. She bought her $,1000 dress in April and paid in full. It was supposed to come in July 28.
“I just want to know if I have to go get another dress,” Mckerlie said.
Other bridal retailers are stepping up to assist stranded brides. Competitor David’s Bridal said it would offer 30 percent discounts to brides left without dresses. The discount applies to current promotions and clearance prices. The chain said it was also waiving “rush fees” on alterations.
For bridesmaids impacted by Alfred Angelo’s closing, David’s Bridal is offering 20 percent discounts.
“We know how much goes into planning a wedding, and we want to ensure that everyone affected by this news can still have the day of their dreams,” David’s Bridal wrote on its website. “If you recently purchased a wedding dress or bridesmaid dress from an Alfred Angelo retail store and did not receive it, we are offering a discount on a replacement dress of your choice.”
Jack Gillis, a spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit research and advocacy group, said those left without a dress should immediately call their credit card company and refuse payment.
“That is the first thing,” Gillis said.
Brides and bridesmaids should also keep an eye on their local store. In bankruptcy situations, stores will often re-open for a period of time for “liquidation sales,” Gillis said.
“It is important that if you live near one of these stores, keep your eyes open,” Gillis said. “If one’s dress is in there, theoretically it will be marked as such.”
At the Boynton Beach store, employees on Thursday gave some brides the number of an attorney to try to recoup her money. But Gillis said customers shouldn’t count on a refund.
“What consumers can do is attempt to get in line for any proceedings as a result of the bankruptcy,” Gillis said. “However, consumers or buyers of the product are usually the last in line. Other creditors are going to eat up whatever money or value may be left in the company.”