5 On Your Side

State seizes Raleigh bridal salon

Posted August 30, 2010 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2010 6:09 p.m. EDT

— 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."