Brides were fuming Friday after learning that gown retailer Alfred Angelo had suddenly shut all its stores — including bridal salons in Cherry Hill and in Whitehall, north of Allentown.
The bombshell news inspired Twitter and Facebook rants across the country.
The company — a mainstay for wedding dresses since it was founded in Philadelphia in 1933 — made no official statement on its abrupt closing. But, said retail analysts, the Delray Beach, Fla.-based firm has filed for bankruptcy protection and all 60 of its Alfred Angelo Bridal Signature Stores had closed by the end of day Thursday.
Another bridal stalwart, David's Bridal, offered Friday to assist the brides and bridesmaids impacted by the Angelo closings with an offer of 30 percent and 20 percent discounts respectively, as well as by making alterations services available to them.
To receive their discounts, brides and their parties can go to any of David's Bridal's 300-plus locations nationwide and present their original Angelo branded receipts, said the statement.
A renowned name in the wedding sector, Alfred Angelo's gowns and dresses are also sold at more than 1,400 wholesale stores worldwide, including nearly two dozen in the Philadelphia area.
But online competition and a falling marriage rate will cause the bridal store industry to decline at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent over the next five years, said IBISWorld retail analyst Madeline Hurley, who added: "It is especially difficult for small chains to compete, as customers look for alternative retail outlets."
At the shuttered stores, customers are met with a terse sign that reads: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, we will only be open to customers who are picking up their orders." Calls to the Cherry Hill store were going straight to voicemail on Friday.
Brides-to-be took to social media. Here were a few from Cherry Hill, posted on Friday:
Alfred Angelo's closure follows hundreds of retail bankruptcies, defaults, and shutterings over the last year and a half. Many attribute the contraction to changing consumer habits and the growing shift to online shopping. Department stores and chains that failed to develop an online strategy quickly enough have felt the biggest brunt.
Angelo's closing "was very abrupt, with no warning," said Joe Morris, senior vice president of leasing and marketing for Cherry Hill Retail Partners LLC, which owns the Market Place at Garden State Park shopping center on Route 70, which housed the wedding retailer. "We found out on Friday morning. I think the decision was made the night before or that [previous] day that they were closing."
Morris said the 4,965 square-foot space "was a nice entry to the other retailers we have on that end," which includes apparel retailers such as Nordstrom Rack, along with Wegmans and Barnes & Noble. "We're sad to see them go."
Alfred Angelo is reportedly trying to ship items that were paid for and in the store, but there's no guarantee those items will arrive by a certain date or that those who paid a deposit on a dress will be receiving refunds.
To make a claim, brides or bridal parties whose dresses aren't in store should contact:
Patricia A. Redmond, Esq.
Stearns Weaver Miller
150 W. Flagler St.
Miami, Fla. 33130