Barry Waldbillig doesn’t know how to tell his daughter she has to pick a grad dress for the second time.
“She’s taken a class trip to France, so I haven’t told her yet,” he said. “I’m not spoiling her vacation.”
Waldbillig is just one of the customers who feels left in the lurch by The Dress, a downtown Saskatoon gown shop that closed its location beside Midtown Plaza in March.
He went in with his daughter to shop for a dress for her Grade 12 graduation at the end of February. He paid a deposit and left the order with the store.
However, The Dress is now locked up and staff have all been let go, leaving patrons to figure out what’s happened with their orders.
As of Monday, signage posted on the shop’s front doors stated the business operates on an appointment-only basis, adding if the doors were locked it was for a private consult.
Waldbillig found out about the closure through Facebook. A community page is currently helping customers make plans in the wake of the news.
The father said he wasn’t able to reach the store’s owner, Jordyn Rothery, but did manage to contact the dress designer directly.
“They said my dress had not been ordered,” he said. “So The Dress took my money and didn’t place the order.”
Waldbillig added the uncertainty has been a major inconvenience, but feels like he doesn’t have the worst situation among customers.
“I’m out a graduation dress, but others are losing much more,” he said.
Mandie Scrivens ordered wedding party dresses from the store in late September. She said they were due to be picked up in January, but nothing happened.
“I didn’t hear anything into January, February,” she said. “I finally kept showing up every day, and I was just told they were on their way and they’d get there soon.”
Eventually Scrivens found a sign on the door of the store saying they were closed for heating repairs, and she decided to contact the manufacturer directly.
“I found out she hadn’t paid her bill for months, and that’s why my dresses weren’t being shipped,” Scrivens said.
She said she got lucky and, after continually contacting Rothery, the dresses arrived.
“She actually dropped them off at a seamstress and ran, and I picked them up,” Scrivens said.
‘EVERYONE WILL GET THEIR DRESSES’
Rothery responded to an interview request by 650 CKOM with a texted statement.
“I completely understand the fear the customers are having,” she wrote. “However everyone will get their dresses – I have another 20 being delivered this week.”
She noted responses are being written to customers who have emailed her, and will continue to do so.
“Unfortunately it’s that mob mentality that gets everyone scared,” she said.
NEW STORE HELPING CUSTOMERS FIND DRESSES
Lexi Brown, the owner of Dressed Up, is trying to help customers caught up in the closure.
She worked as a manager at The Dress until late February, when she was sent home as the owner reportedly dealt with a “heating malfunction.”
After two weeks, Brown said she received a call saying she had been let go and the store was closed.
Instead of finding work at another gown shop, Brown decided to open up her own. She bought the remaining stock from The Dress, signed new contracts with the designers and opened up shop at Centre Mall.
Now she’s trying to work with Waldbillig and others to find out what’s happened to their orders.
“Because I have a contract with the same designer, we’re working together to do the best we can to get the dresses shipped to [the customers],” she said.
But since she is a separate entity with no actual connection to The Dress, Brown can’t take over the dress orders herself.