Illinois stores carrying popular Alfred Angelo dresses say they've been left with more questions than answers the bridal retailer suddenly shuttered its stores across the country.
Alfred Angelo boasts on its website that it helps brides "realize your wedding dreams," but by the end of day Thursday the promised wedding fantasy of so many had quickly turned to nightmares -- and not just for brides and bridesmaids.
The abrupt closure of dozens of Alfred Angelo stores across the country threw brides-to-be into limbo, leaving thousands of customers distraught over the prospect of finding another dress on short notice.
Valen Studios Bridal Boutique in Grayslake said it received no notice from the retailer that it was closing its shops.
Erica Janel, who manages the shop, said the move is devastating for their store as she estimates 90 percent of their dresses are Alfred Angelo gowns. She adds that she has about 50 brides currently waiting on dresses from her shop and the company has been vague about what the closure means for those brides.
Janel said if the company cannot fulfill her store's orders, Valens plans to refund the brides out their own pockets.
At Eva's Bridal Shop in Oak Lawn, it's a similar situation, though the store sells dresses from a wide variety of designers. Store officials say they're working on a backup plan if the retailer doesn't provide the dozens of dresses brides are currently waiting on.
The Wall Street Journal reports, citing company sources, that Alfred Angelo Bridal hired Miami-based law firm Stearns, Weaver, and Miller to guide the company through legal proceedings for bankruptcy protection. NBC has not indepently confirmed the WSJ report and Alfred Angelo and the firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
At Alfred Angelo’s headquarters in Florida, employees were reportedly seen leaving the company’s corporate office Thursday “en masse,” according to the Palm Beach Post. And as social media buzzed of a rumored bankruptcy, the bridal retailer remained silent.
Angry brides and bridesmaids turned to Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations with the news.
Ohio bride-to-be Amber McGraw said she didn't know how to describe the "sick feeling" she had paying "for a wedding dress I won't get." She added: "I'm getting married in 64 days and now have to look for a new dress and hope I find the money to pay for it #robbed."
Some customers say they were notified earlier Thursday to pick up their orders before stores shuttered their doors for good at the end of the day. Others learned of the closures through social media and arrived only to find the locations closed.
Brides who ordered Alfred Angelo dresses say they aren’t sure if they will ever get their dream gown while several customers reported stores were unable to process refunds because the credit card machines were no longer working.
"They said, 'We can't do any refunds, we can't do anything to help you,'" said Kathy Hunt, who told NBC Los Angeles she was out $1,100 for her daughter's dress.
But it's not just customers who were caught off-guard. Mollie Frish, a seamstress at the Alfred Angelo store in Manchester, Connecticut, said employees were advised at the beginning of their shift on Thursday morning that it would be their last day of work.
"Many of these girls, this is their livelihood and they are without a job suddenly. Are they going to get paid? We don't know," Frish told NBC Connecticut.
Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Vincent Piccione founded the company in 1933. The company since grew to operating more than 60 stores nationwide and selling merchandise in more than 1,400 retail stores across the U.S. and around the globe.