5 On Your Side

Dresses from seized Raleigh bridal salon up for auction

Posted September 30, 2010 4:34 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2010 6:16 p.m. EDT

— Wedding gowns, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses and accessories from a closed north Raleigh bridal shop will be auctioned on Monday to help recover tax money owed by the store's owner.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue seized Diamond's Bridal last month, taking the store and everything in it.

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. 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.

In July, a bride requested help from WRAL News after she paid Hipps for dresses she didn't receive.

In mid-August, Hipps said hundreds of orders were still outstanding.

Since then, some brides got refunds from Hipps, and others got their dresses directly from manufacturers. Some brides had to repay another shop to get their dresses, losing the deposits they had already paid Hipps.

After the store was seized, auctioneer Randy Wester said the Department of of Revenue worked tirelessly to match dress orders with customers. To get the dresses, those buyers had to pay the balance they owed. All of the merchandise that's leftover is being auctioned.

Wester said some of the more than 1,000 dresses available will probably sell for between $10 and $20 each. Other dresses normally priced around $3,500 could sell for $300 or $400, he said.

The auction is being held at the former location of Diamond's Bridal, 1606 North Market Drive. Doors open at 8 a.m. for a two-hour preview. The auction starts at 10 a.m.

Bids will be taken first from individuals who want the dresses, then commercial buyers, Wester said.

People will not be allowed to try on clothing, and all sales are final.

A 10 percent buyer's premium will be added to all sales.