5 On Your Side

State seizes Raleigh bridal salon

Posted August 30, 2010

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— Brides and bridesmaids who ordered dresses from a north Raleigh shop now have another obstacle to getting their orders. The North Carolina Department of Revenue has seized the store and everything in it.

Store owner: Hundreds of bridal dresses may not be delivered

When Edna Wilkes arrived at Diamond's Bridal Monday to check on the bridesmaid dress she ordered three months ago, she found a "No Trespassing" sign.

"I've never heard back from them. I've been trying to do what I can to contact them. (I was asking) 'Can I get my dress? Can I get my deposit? What can I do?'" Wilkes said.

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."

She estimated that hundreds of dresses, worth thousands of dollars, are outstanding. Instead of ordering dresses for brides, she used deposits from new customers to pay the previous owners for the business and to pay off other brides who didn't get their dresses.

Mary Katherine Stegall is out $900 after she ordered a bridal gown from Diamond's Bridal.

"My stomach dropped. I thought I was going to throw up," she said after she saw a recent 5 on Your Side report on the store.

"I love this business," Hipps said. "Just the financial side of it is not for me."

The Department of Revenue will auction off the contents of the store within 45 days to recover what Hipps owes in taxes.

Before that time, customers can present their receipts, and the agency will work with them. Customers can call Levy Officer Beth Courser at 919-218-9823 for details.

"The owner plays the victim, and she still has to be held accountable for her actions," Stegall said. "She promised a product within a specific time frame, and she hasn't delivered that product."

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  • bmullins Sep 2, 2010

    "Says who, someone who doesn't want their lavish clients to disappear?"

    Nope.. says someone who has been to over 100 weddings and seen both low, mid & high end weddings. If it makes them happy, why does that bother you?

  • cathysnc Sep 2, 2010

    My daughter-in-law used David's Bridal in Fayetteville and we had a wonderful experience. Also $900.00 is not a whole lot for a dress if that is the dress you want and you have the money to pay for it. We did not spend that much on her dress but if she would have found one that she liked at that price we would have.

  • landscatter Sep 2, 2010

    That place was a nightmare before it got sold off. I got my dress from that same store in 2002 under the previous owners and had a terrible experience.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Sep 1, 2010

    "$900 is NOT an extravagant amount for a dress"

    Says who, someone who doesn't want their lavish clients to disappear?

  • Tired Of Excuses Sep 1, 2010

    Unbelievable...what a nightmare for the brides.

  • Pseudonym Sep 1, 2010

    Quote from boinc, who is quoting Grandpeople:""Poor store owner - why - must be a democrat - take from one GIVE to another." Grandpeople

    See, I'd say she must be a Republican since she lies/cheats/steals and has no idea how to run a business. See where these pointless comments get us..."

    Nah, she's a Democrat, since she does things on a whim without thinking about the consequences.

  • bmullins Sep 1, 2010

    Ahhh.. love the bantering of people who feel they can dictate or judge others for how they spend their own money. It's their money, not yours.. if they want to throw a lavish wedding then why judge? $900 is NOT an extravagant amount for a dress by the way.

    I'm in the wedding business myself and the majority of businesses, especially in this area, are all above board, owner operated and very sensitive to how much emotion is involved in the wedding day. The business, unfortunately, has a gold rush feel and new business owners, as we can see, often have no business running a business. I feel for these brides but the damage is minimal. Several restaurants and venues in other areas have gone out of business and left the couple with nothing AFTER paying a HUGE amount to rent the facility and food. That is something you can't recover from easily.

    You should also know every vendor at a wedding requires full payment before the wedding day. That is not the time to collect monies owed.

  • shortcake53 Aug 31, 2010

    We had a very modest wedding, we did most of the usual stuff, but did not go extreme. Married over 37 years now. You dont need to spend a fortune for a happy marriage. Use that money for more important things.

  • james27613 Aug 31, 2010

    The store website reads:

    Diamond's Bridal is a family owned and operated business and have been in the Triangle area since 1989. We are a full service bridal salon with personal professional consultants to help you find the dress of your dreams. We appreciate your business.

  • james27613 Aug 31, 2010

    "I love this business," Hipps said.
    "Just the financial side of it is not for me."

    I hope she likes the cozy room she will receive at
    The North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW)
    after she is convicted on numerous counts of fraud and tax evasion.

    Amazing that the previous owner would sell a business without getting paid for the business when the deal was closed.

    Instead of ordering dresses for brides, she used deposits from new customers to pay the previous owners for the business and to pay off other brides who didn't get their dresses.

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