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Gretchen’s Bridal closes without warning, leaving brides in a bind

Gretchen’s Bridal closes without warning, leaving brides in a bind

Gretchen’s Bridal closes without warning, leaving brides in a bind

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LaToiya Smith stopped by Gretchen’s Bridal Gallery in the Castleton area on Wednesday morning to check on the status of her bridesmaid dress for an October wedding, but stopped at a sign taped to the door that read, “Do not enter.”

Smith, who lives in Indianapolis and works near Castleton, had heard rumors about the store’s closing from her best friend, who bought her wedding dress at Gretchen’s along with the rest of the bridal party, but the closed doors and dark store confirmed her fears.

“I’m stunned,” said Smith, standing outside the store at 5447 East 82nd Street. “And I lost a ton of money because I had to pay for the entire dress.”

Dozens of brides-to-be and bridal parties were left in the lurch after the boutique store closed over the weekend without explanation, leaving customers without custom-made dresses and potentially hundreds to thousands of dollars in losses.

The sign on the door said the owner had taken possession of the property and changed the locks in the process. Delivery drivers were told to drop off shipments at the home improvement store next door.

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A spokesman for Broadbent Company, which manages the Castleton Point shopping center where Gretchen’s is located, said property management discovered the store had closed permanently.

After several failed attempts to contact the owners, Broadbent changed the locks to protect the contents still in the shop, where several racks full of dresses can be seen through the windows.

“The Broadbent Company appreciates the burden that the closure has placed on brides-to-be and will work with them to help reunite them with their dresses,” the statement said.

A message on the store’s phone said no one was available. The store’s website was also down Wednesday morning. Attempts by IndyStar to reach the store’s owners, Gretchen and Joe Reynolds, were unsuccessful.

For LeLe Jackson of Fishers, Gretchen’s offered something she couldn’t find at most other brick-and-mortar stores in Indianapolis: a selection of plus-size dresses at a reasonable price.

She purchased her wedding dress in March for $1,600, within her budget and $1,000 less than her other option at a bridal shop in Carmel.

Jackson received multiple text messages saying her dress would be ready for pickup in early July, well before her October wedding, but this week her emails to the store began bouncing back.

“I’m in shock,” Jackson said. “They’re a serious company and I’m disappointed that so many brides are going through this right now.”

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Melissa Personette had been in contact with a Gretchen’s employee a week ago to make plans to pick up her daughter Melody’s wedding dress, which the couple purchased in February. But on Monday, her text messages and phone calls to the store went unanswered. Eventually, Personette learned the store had closed from a reporter for a local news station.

With less than four months until Melody’s wedding, a custom-made dress was no longer an option, so Personette found a ready-made dress for her daughter at another bridal shop for a reasonable price. She disputed Gretchen’s $1,200 charge for the dress with her bank, which refunded her money. But the Personettes still want to know what happened.

“We want answers. We want to know what’s going on,” Melissa Personette said. “The experience was great while we were there, and they’ve been in business for so long, so why didn’t they just give us the dress?”

Gretchen’s advertised its store as a bridal boutique that offered more than 600 designer brands, according to an archived website, and sold dresses for bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and proms. The brand had been in business for more than 30 years, according to its profile on The Knot.

Other stores in the mall include Trader Joe’s, Ross Dress for Less and Penzey’s Spices.

Broadbent encouraged affected customers to call 317-237-2900 with proof of purchase and said management would attempt to reunite them with their dresses.

Alysa Guffey covers the growth and development of IndyStar. Do you know of any businesses that are opening or closing? Contact her at [email protected].