A fairytale ending for (at least some) Alfred Angelo bridesmaids

Alfred Angelo employees leave the store on July 14, as crowds ask for help finding their bridal gowns.
Alfred Angelo employees leave the store on July 14, as crowds ask for help finding their bridal gowns. Andrea Bernstein/KPCC

Last Friday, Helen Rivera wept in front of the steps in front of Alfred Angelo's West Covina store.

The store was closed.

A sign on the door gave an email address for the company's attorney. Alfred Angelo, a national bridal chain, with more than 60 stores and 70 years in business, had abruptly declared bankruptcy and closed all of its stores, seemingly overnight.

Helen Rivera, 35, sits on the floor in front of the Alfred Angelo store in West Covina, when she arrived to pick up her last bridesmaid dress and the store was unexpectedly closed.
Helen Rivera, 35, sits on the floor in front of the Alfred Angelo store in West Covina, when she arrived to pick up her last bridesmaid dress and the store was unexpectedly closed. Andrea Bernstein/KPCC

Rivera was trying to track down one bridesmaid's dress, which was paid for, but not picked up yet. She worried it would be a casualty of the company's bankruptcy, leaving one of her 12 bridesmaids out in the cold.

"It hurts because I brought them business. I thought, everybody was nice, everything was going good - until this. And it's like, why can't we get our dresses? Why can't we just get our dresses?" she asked tearfully.

As worried brides arrived to the Alfred Angelo store in West Covina, they found that the doors were locked.
As worried brides arrived to the Alfred Angelo store in West Covina, they found that the doors were locked. Andrea Bernstein, KPCC

What a difference a week makes. When KPCC reached Rivera Friday, she was upbeat.

"All my bridesmaids have their dresses," she said.

An employee from the West Covina store had texted her bridesmaid, told her that she had the dress, and offered to hand deliver it.

KPCC reached out to two other local women, and heard the same story – a local saleswoman had called them and hand-delivered their missing bridesmaid's dresses. It’s unclear whether Alfred Angelo was paying them to do it, or had even approved of it.

Andrea Bernstein, KPCC

"I think it was the manager being helpful because she said she lost her job...without notice," said Cinthia Chavez. "If not for her, I wouldn't have a dress for tomorrow."

Rivera also believed it was individual store employees going out of their way to help.

To which all of us at KPCC did this:

"It was more that they felt bad, and they wanted to be there for the brides," she said. "They are following through with what they promised. The individuals, not the company."

The bankruptcy trustee overseeing Alfred Angelo’s case did not reply to an emailed request for comment. An auto-reply email directed brides who have July weddings to contact the firm's attorney directly, perhaps an attempt to triage help for the neediest brides.

Alfred Angelo filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 14. More than 1,000 page long, the filing shows that the company is indebted to more than 14,000 people — most appear to be women who are owed dresses. More than 2,000 of them are in California.

One of the local women on that list, Natalie Buck, said she received Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork informing her that Alfred Angelo's creditors would meet in Florida at the end of August.

Another local woman on the list, Laura Sandoval, said she emailed Alfred Angelo's lawyer but has not received a response.

"Alfred Angelo has not gotten back [to] me or my mother in law who also ordered a dress," she said via Facebook. "No response or information on what will happen to our dress or a refund."

Sandoval said the bankruptcy notice she received told her she can submit a claim. 

"I'm lucky my wedding isn't until December 23rd so I at least have some time to search for alternatives," she said. "I just did not expect Alfred Angelo, out of all places, to even be in this situation."

In the past week, women around the country have offered up their once-worn dresses to help brides burned by Alfred Angelo. Needy wedding parties can check out a selection of offerings here, or scan social media using the hashtag #DressMatchmaker .

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