5 On Your Side

Store owner: Hundreds of bridal dresses may not be delivered

Posted August 18, 2010

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— The owner of a north Raleigh bridal store says dozens of brides might never see the wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses for which they have already paid.

Sharon Hipps said she bought Diamond's Bridal "on a whim" last year and got in over her head by growing too fast and offering too many discounts.

Asked if she knows how to run a business, Hipps said, "To be 100 percent honest with you, I don't."

Several incensed brides contacted 5 on Your Side about their experience with Hipps and Diamond's Bridal.

Lindsey Monaghan paid Hipps a $552 deposit in May for the dresses she expected to receive in July. When the dresses weren't delivered, she said, it took her weeks to reach Hipps, who then blamed the delay on manufacturer back orders.

Monaghan said she got on a conference call with Hipps and a manufacturer's representative, who scolded Hipps for the way she runs her business.

"You're lying to her," Monaghan said the rep told Hipps. "We have not back-ordered your dresses. We tried to ship them. You denied the shipment, and now they are sitting in our warehouse."

Monaghan said Hipps finally told her that she didn't have the money to pay the manufacturer for the dresses.

Other brides told similar stories about Diamond's Bridal.

Store owner promises happliy-ever-after ending to enraged brides Retailer promises happliy-ever-after ending to enraged brides

Ashley Johnson paid Hipps $600 for bridesmaid dresses, but the manufacturer never received payment. Jessica Lee said the maker of the wedding gown she paid Hipps a $400 deposit for told her it no longer does business with Diamond's Bridal.

"A wedding is supposed to be stressful anyway. She made it a nightmare," Johnson said of Hipps.

"They weren't supposed to go through this," Hipps said. "I am personally, deeply sorry this is going on. It was never supposed to happen. I am trying to fix it."

Hundreds of dress orders are outstanding, she said, adding that most of her customers don't know she doesn't have the money to pay for orders or refund deposits.

"The money went to the previous owners for buying this business," she said.

Hipps estimated she owes about $30,000 to customers who have placed orders that are due this year. She also has a number of orders due next year.

She recently repaid at least two brides with deposit money she received for other orders, which she says is basically her profit. She said she also is looking for an investor to help stabilize the store's finances and is planning a floor sale of the dresses she has to generate cash.

Monaghan and Johnson got their dresses through other stores, but they said they are still upset with how they were treated.

"When she swiped my credit card in May, she knew that money was not going to the correct place," Monaghan said. "That's what I'm really upset about."

27 Comments

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  • angiharris Aug 24, 2010

    We got our bridesmaids dresses from her today, early! She is really trying to do the right thing, she has good intentions and wants everyone to get their dresses. My advice is to be proactive, go talk to her, get tracking numbers, talk to UPS to find out COD amount and be sure she has a check for that amount. Be nice and have a good attitude. Doing otherwise does no one any good. I hope that once this blows over, she can do what she needs to do to get this business running smoothly. She has beautiful dresses and was friendly to work with.

  • superman Aug 23, 2010

    She got in over her head. No money and buying a business. What did she expect? She sold merchandise and gave the money to buy the business. How did she think she was going to pay for the dresses. You cant help her unless you willing to pay for the dresses for her.

  • mortimer311 Aug 20, 2010

    I agree with jmuunc - there is more to the story and Ms. Hipps was victimized by the previous owners. She is in over her head and needs help - she wants the ladies to get their dresses but the negative publicity is not going to help. She made mistakes in trying to correct a situation that spun out of control after purchasing the business, and probably could have used better judgement, but this story only scratches the surface. I personally was affected by this; however, I did receive my dresses. I want others to receive theirs. There is a lot of wrong done here, but surely someone can help make it right.

    H

  • Adelinthe Aug 20, 2010

    "Lickad, whether you think these women pay too much for their dresses or not is beside the point. They paid for a product they did not receive. That's theft. Or fraud."

    I agree with Psycho.

    It's not right for you to try to enforce your morals on people who have paid honest money for an honest product, and got nothing.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Lickad Aug 20, 2010

    psycho, I wish I had a violin to play. I am kinda glad this happened, it is a wake up call that a wedding is not all about dresses and such, it is about a MAN and a woman spending the rest of their lives together. Get a Justice of the Peace, go to the courthouse and try not to have too many kids, if any.

  • psycho Aug 20, 2010

    Lickad, whether you think these women pay too much for their dresses or not is beside the point. They paid for a product they did not receive. That's theft. Or fraud. I'm not sure which is the accurate legal term, but clearly the owner is in the wrong, although it sounds like she herself may have gotten taken.

  • jmuunc Aug 19, 2010

    This reporter is missing the real story. I have been scammed by the previous owner of Diamond's, not Ms. Hipps who bought the operation, and believe that this lady was victimized by the prior owners into buying the business. The new owner clearly needs help, she doesn't need some sharp-faced ambushing reporter looking to make a 60-Minutes name for herself at this poor woman's expense. After seeing the prior owners at work, I'm betting that they saw this lady as their next mark, didn't care about the orders they had already taken from happy future brides, didn't train the buyer in this difficult business. This woman should be helped by the local retired businesspeople who do such, not driven out of business.

  • Pseudonym Aug 19, 2010

    She's just mimicking the model for Ponzi schemes and Social Security.

  • jimmycrackcorn Aug 19, 2010

    So this woman purchsed the store with all of these peoples deposit/order money. She then offered discounts already putting her deeper in the hole. She is about a year and a half from making her first penny. Who financed this boondoggle?
    Seriously, thats basically asking people to give you money so you can open a business and not only are you not going to give them interest on this loan, you are not going to provide a product either.

    Anyone here want to send me $500...I'm planning on opening a store as soon as I hit $30K. I promise not to repay you or give you anything in return for your investment.
    Let me know and I will be happy to do business with you.

  • SaltyOldJarhead Aug 19, 2010

    Funny (not funny ha-ha either), the BBB of Raleigh has a rating of A on the store. Check out their rating and review at www.bbb.org/raleigh-durham/business-reviews/bridal-shops/diamonds-bridal-and-formal-in-raleigh-nc-6004268

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