Brides left gownless after Toronto shop abruptly closes
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Stress about the dress is nothing new for brides-to-be.
But wedding day angst has increased a hundredfold for some Toronto-area women who recently discovered that their special day finery — and the money they paid for it — had disappeared, along with the owner-operator of a Spadina Ave. store.
Toronto police have launched a fraud investigation into Classy Collection, which was operating out of leased premises on the ground floor of 101 Spadina Ave. up until about mid-January, when the store abruptly closed.
A call to the store’s phone number results in an operator message saying the number is not in use.
At this point, police cannot confirm the name of the owner of Classy Collection, Const. Wendy Drummond told the Star. But the two women who first complained to police — Sarah Boston of Dorset, Ont., and Sydney D’Andrade, of Markham — have identified her on their Facebook page, Classy Collection Investigation.
The name the woman gave them “might not be her real name, but that’s what she told us her name was, and that’s what she told all the women we’ve been able to reach,” said D’Andrade, 22, who works in the hospitality industry.
Nicole Anderson Conlon, who owns Bridals on Spadina, on the second level of the same building, has seen some of the brides who paid money down for their dream gowns and now have nothing.
“They’re coming upstairs and asking me if I know anything. They’re crying in my store,” said Conlon. Some have photos of themselves in their gowns, and she’s tried to put them in touch with the manufacturers.
“I feel so bad . . . they’re in shock. It’s just disgusting what’s happened,” Conlon said.
D’Andrade said she paid $800 in cash last July for a dress to wear to her wedding reception and was told to come back and get it in February. Several weeks ago, she says, she tried to call for an appointment to try on the dress, but found she couldn’t get anyone on the line.
She Googled Classy Collection and found postings by Boston, 28, a retail clothing manager, warning that the store had gone out of business.
D’Andrade contacted Boston, and together they’ve spread the word on the Internet and created a Facebook page to share information and help police.
So far, about 12 women have joined, telling Boston and D’Andrade that they, too, lost money — an average of $1,000 — after ordering wedding gowns and other finery at the store. Others have been in touch but want to remain anonymous.
Boston seems to have been the first to discover her loss. She was in Toronto in January and decided to drop by Classy Collection, where she’d ordered her dress the previous June, paying $1,000 in cash and $270 on credit.
“I saved up for 10 months to get it . . . I was so in love with it. I’m 6 feet tall and I need something that’s the proper length . . . I was told if I paid cash it would be cheaper. She said, ‘Come back in February’ — that was the magic date I found out that she gave everyone, no matter when you ordered,” said Boston. Her wedding to fiancé Zachary Lock is set for Aug. 17, her dad’s 65th birthday.
But she was in for a shock when she went to the store to show her friends the dress.
“Smashed mirrors, broken windows, drywall on the floor, labels on the floor . . . garbage everywhere. At that point I knew what was going on. I turned around and said to my cousin: ‘She’s gone. She’s gone.’ ”
Boston says the landlord told her the owner left in the middle of the night, loading everything she could into a truck.
She called her dress’s Toronto manufacturer, Venus Bridals, but was told it had never been ordered.
An employee at Venus Bridals, who would only identify herself to the Star as “Christina,” said the Classy Collection owner had been dealing with Venus for about eight years. Up until recently, “nothing was wrong . . . we were floored when this happened. It’s very heartbreaking for the brides; we feel bad for them.”
Boston, fortunately, was able to buy the same dress at another Toronto store. She’s gone from being “sick to my stomach and crying my eyes out” to wanting justice.
D’Andrade feels the same and continues to post notices on store review websites, warning women about what’s happened and directing them to the Facebook page.
D’Andrade, who plans to wed May 4 and doesn’t intend to replace the now-lost gown, says she feels sorry for the other brides left in the lurch.
“Some of them are really down in the dumps.”