5 On Your Side

Store owner: Hundreds of bridal dresses may not be delivered

Posted August 18, 2010 4:27 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2010 7:56 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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."