Owner of bankrupt Duluth bridal shop working to deliver dressesAnnette Mega, co-owner of Princess Bride of Duluth, says she’s been working hard to get previously ordered wedding dresses to her customers, despite the store’s recent closure and bankruptcy.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
Annette Mega, co-owner of Princess Bride of Duluth, says she’s been working hard to get previously ordered wedding dresses to her customers, despite the store’s recent closure and bankruptcy.
“I am trying to work with everyone,” an emotional Mega told the News Tribune this week. “I would never intentionally hurt any bride, ever.”
While many of the more than 80 customers who are affected fear they’ve lost out on their deposits and their dresses, a group of customers were all smiles when they picked up their Maggie Sottero dresses at the store a few days ago.
Beth Johnson of Proctor picked up her daughter’s dress late Friday afternoon. And while she was there, she said six others picked up their dresses.
“There were quite a few brides and everybody was so excited, so happy,” Johnson said.
Fifteen of the designer brand dresses were picked up, with two more to be delivered to customers, Mega said.
The store at 1709 Mall Drive closed abruptly in early January, with the landlord posting an eviction notice on the door. That same week, Mega and Princess Bride filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in U.S. District Court in Duluth. It listed $260,000 in assets and nearly $460,000 in liabilities, including $32,000 owed to the landlord. The other co-owner, Laurie Mathews, will file separately, Mega said.
The bankruptcy file lists about 100 creditors that appear to be customers. News of the apparent plight of brides-to-be who had ordered dresses from the store prompted a Duluth woman to set up a Facebook page last week to match wedding dress donations with brides-to-be who are in a bind, out money and their dresses and hard-pressed to replace them.
But since the store closed, Mega says she’s been on the phone calling her bridal customers to keep them updated and calling manufacturers in attempts to arrange for orders to be completed and dresses delivered. Typically, the balance on the dresses is paid when customers pick them up months after they’re ordered.
Johnson’s daughter, Marie LeSavage, who lives in California but plans to marry in Duluth in July, had ordered her Maggie Sottero dress last summer. She had paid $740 on the dress and veil. With taxes, the total came to $1,545.
Mega worked out an arrangement with the company that makes the higher end Maggie Sottero dresses. Her customers who had ordered a Maggie Sottero dress and made down payments could prepay the remaining balance to an account set up at US Bank. Then the dresses would be delivered to Mega on — coincidentally — Valentine’s Day.
“I know it’s a very negative situation for a lot of people,” LeSavage said. “I want people to know that Annette did try to get all the brides their dresses. Unfortunately, not everybody could get their dresses, but Annette worked very hard to do that for us.”
Mega, who insists the eviction was done illegally, said she was allowed continued access to the store through last weekend, though the store never reopened.
LeSavage, who had previously picked up her bridal veil, took Mega’s offer to get her dress, after confirming it was “for real” with Mega’s attorney.
Sharon Macadam of Thunder Bay said her daughter also followed through on the offer.
“Annette Mega contacted my daughter immediately after the store closure and answered every phone call we made to her,” Macadam said in a letter to the editor. “Likewise, the Maggie Sottero corporate office assured us that the dress was finished and ready to be shipped when Annette requested it. We were able to keep our deposit and send the remaining money in a bank draft.”
She, too, spoke highly of Mega’s efforts to get dresses for her customers.
More efforts underway
Mega said she has tried to set up similar arrangements with other bridal dress makers.
“There actually are other manufacturers working with me,” she said. “I have been working diligently to do whatever I can.”
Jasmine Bridal, Ursula and Jordan Fashion have been cooperative, though some other manufacturers have not, she said.
Between 15 and 20 more of her customers have pursued similar offers arranged by Mega with other manufacturers to get their ordered dresses, Mega said.
The majority of (the brides) who haven’t have chosen not to because they’re afraid of the bankruptcy situation and store’s closure, she said.
Last week, the News Tribune reported the case of one woman who had ordered a Mori Lee dress from Princess Bride and was advised by Mega to deal directly with the manufacturer. That customer offered to pay off the balance to get the dress, but was told the dress could only be shipped to an authorized dealer who had ordered it.
Princess Bride was the only authorized dealer in Duluth.
“I was lucky to be able to get my dress because of my designer choice,” LeSavage said of her Maggie Sottero dress.
Mega’s inventory of dresses remained at the store on Friday, observed Johnson.
“It looked like the store usually looks,” she said.
But the dresses were removed from the store over the weekend, after the Maggie Sottero dresses were picked up by customers.
“I am now out of the building, but I do have manufacturers that will deliver to my home,” Mega said on Monday. “I am still working with brides. I will work as hard as I can. I answer phone calls every single solitary day. Whoever calls me, I call back.”
Mega says that after 23 years, this is the end of the business for her, though Chapter 13 allows businesses to restructure in an attempt to stay in business. It also allows filers to keep property and pay debts over time.
“There’s no way I could reopen the store,” Mega said. “I would like to.”
Her sister, however, is planning to open Christian Lane Bridal, a new bridal shop, she confirmed.
“I will probably work for her,” Mega said. “But I will have nothing to do with the ownership, because there’s just no way.”