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Emily Welker, Published August 27 2013

Bridal shop gone bust makes for panicked brides

FARGO – In the age of bridezillas and weddings that cost more than some people’s first cars, a bridal shop unexpectedly shuttering can be a last-minute logistical catastrophe.

So the closing this week of The Bridal Shop, 3223 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, is causing some heartache for some brides to be.

“I can’t believe this is going on,” said Cathy Powers, a mother of the bride who received a phone call from her bawling daughter Monday night. “The disappointment for my daughter – planning a wedding is no cakewalk. These girls are so stressed out.”

Powers’ daughter is one of the soon-to-be-brides who bought gowns from The Bridal Shop, said owner Gretchen Ingbretson, and whose weddings are weeks away – in Powers’ case, Oct. 11 – with no dress in hand.

Ingbretson said she doesn’t know exactly how many brides still have outstanding orders, but she said she averages a couple of hundred brides per year.

“The August brides are completely taken care of,” Ingbretson said Tuesday as she steamed wedding dresses at the now-closed store, “and we’re working through the volume of September wear dates.”

Ingbretson said the closure was also challenging for her employees, some who have been with the store for 25 years, she said. The business had been open for 60 years before closing this week. Ingbretson bought it from a family member in 2008.

Ingbretson attributed the decision to close to recent shifts in the bridal gown industry to more Internet-based business. The store also does tuxedo rentals and dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls and mothers, but Ingbretson said taking care of brides who have ordered gowns is their first priority.

“We’re very apologetic for the situation, me and all my staff – we’re very sad the situation came to be,” she said. “We didn’t get into the business to have a situation like this.”

She said they are working to return all the phone calls they’ve received since announcing the store’s closure but admits the timing is not good, since wedding season in the region has recently seen an uptick in the number of September brides. Anyone whose dress has arrived in the store should expect a phone call within the next two days for pickup or delivery, she said.

The nearby Straus Clothing is handling the tuxes for grooms, and David’s Bridal is offering a 40 percent discount to brides and wedding party members in the Fargo area who have been affected by the closure.

Ingbretson said her shop is working with other area retailers to help brides get their dresses before the big day. That’s what happened with Powers, after she contacted LeeAnne’s Bridal in Fargo to see if they could help lay hands on the $1,300 Maggie Sottero dress her daughter had ordered in January but which has yet to be delivered.

There was good news, Powers said, thanks to the LeeAnne’s employee, who she calls “the most wonderful person in the world, as far as I’m concerned.” The dress was in a warehouse in Utah, awaiting payment. Powers plunked down her credit card even though it was already paid for.

The money wasn’t the issue, she said. And neither was the dress.

“My daughter is just beautiful. She’d look great in a gunny sack,” she said. “It’s the disappointment for my daughter – not the money.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541