January 25, 2020
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Sudden closing of Bangor bridal shop upsets wedding plans

BANGOR, Maine — The sudden closing of a bridal shop has members of wedding parties scrambling to replace dresses and tuxedos that were ordered but either have not been delivered or are locked in the Main Street store.

Bangor police and the Maine attorney general’s office have received a handful of complaints about the abrupt closure last week of House of Brides but can offer little hope for a solution before the end of the busy summer wedding season.

Efforts to reach store owner Jill Hunter Smith on Monday were unsuccessful. The store’s Facebook page has been disabled. The business phone is no longer operative, and Smith’s cellphone number has been disconnected.

Neither Smith nor the business have filed for bankruptcy in Maine, according to the clerk’s office at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor.

Social media is abuzz with complaints about the closing. Postings on a Facebook page titled All Misled by House of Brides” tell similar stories — dresses ordered, deposits paid, excuses about why orders had not arrived when expected and refunds promised but not processed.

Teresa Snyder, 42, of Bangor is marrying Tim McCann, 62, of Bangor on June 18 in Eddington. In February, she personally ordered teal-colored dresses for her six bridesmaids, and an eggplant-colored one for her matron of honor, an emotional Snyder said Monday. She also put down a $700 deposit on the gowns.

“I went into the shop on May 27, and they hadn’t arrived,” she said, fighting back tears. “I said, ‘We’re cutting it very close.’”

Smith assured her the dresses would arrive in time for any needed alterations, Snyder said.

“I was counting on those dresses,” she said. “I was praying for them to arrive in May. Now, I have to pay for different dresses, not the ones I wanted.”

Snyder, who did not purchase her wedding dress at House of Brides, already has selected new dresses for her bridesmaids off-the-rack at Dress Barn.

“These are plain, ordinary dresses,” she said, “not considered to be bridesmaid dresses at all.”

Traci Lynne Richardson, 25, of Wytopitlock, who is getting married Sept. 17 in Springfield, has a similar story. She created the Facebook page for people who are in similar situations.

“My bridesmaids put complete confidence in me by putting deposits on bridesmaid gowns,” she wrote on Facebook. “I put complete confidence in this boutique to get these dresses ordered and here on time. We did exactly what was asked of us. And when the dresses were suppose to be in, I called to get an update only to learn that the money was gone, the store was closed, and there were no dresses.”

Richardson, who operates County Girl Cakes, said that her six bridesmaids had paid $900 to House of Brides for dresses they have not received and most likely never will.

“I own a cake business and if I took a deposit and didn’t show up for the wedding, birthday, etc., my own morals would shut down,” she wrote on Facebook. “People need to take responsibility and we shouldn’t have to wait months or years to receive the money back.”

At least three area bridal shops have offered to help people who have receipts from House of Brides for merchandise they have not received.

Henry’s Bridal Boutique and Blush Bridal and Formal, both in Bangor, and Dream Dress Bridal in Brewer have offered discounts and special deals to House of Brides’ former customers.

Lt. Tim Cotton, spokesman for the Bangor police, said that the department had received complaints about the store’s sudden closing.

“It is not clear at this time what the outcome will be, but rest assured we are looking into the reported incidents,” he said Monday in an email.

Timothy Feeley, spokesman for the Maine attorney general’s office, said those who believe they are owed money or merchandise should contact the consumer mediation service and request a complaint form. To contact that office call 800-436-2131 or email consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

 



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