Toronto police say they are investigating an alleged fraud after a bridal store on Spadina Avenue closed up shop without any warning, sometime last month.
An unknown number of women have had their wedding plans shattered after Classy Collection moved out of its premises with no warning, taking with it all of the gowns, veils and shoes — and leaving behind a lot of angry and frustrated customers.
Melanie Fraser is one of them.
After 15 years together she and her fiancee Rome Brennan decided to get married.
Fraser found her dream dress at Classy Collection. She tried it on and paid for it in full. But when she arrived to pick it up, the shop was closed.
The shop owner, listed as either Yvonne Woo or Yvonne Vu, was nowhere to be found.
"She ruined my dream, she ruined my day," said Fraser. "I don't even know if I am getting married now. I don't know what I'm getting married in."
"I can get another dress but I will never be able to get that dress that I really really want."
Sarah Boston was also a victim. A tall woman, she said she was ecstatic when she found a dress that fit her, "like it was custom for my height"
She was told that the seller would reduce the price if she paid cash.
So she saved up for months and paid $1,300 in cash. She was told to come to pick up her dream dress in February..
But when she came back she found the empty store.
"I was sick to my stomach, devastated, I cried," she said.
Neighbouring business owners say sometime in January Classy Collection just disappeared — along with its owner.
"As far as we know they left in the night, that sort of thing," said Meredith Usher of Theatre Books. "I mean we don't know anything except they didn't come back."
Word started to spread that the store had closed and other brides-to-be did what Fraser and Boston did and showed up at the store.
Most ended up at another bridal store upstairs.
Nicole Anderson Conlin, who owns Bridals on Spadina, understood the angst the women were going through.
"Oh my goodness, I felt so sorry for these girls," said Conlin. "Can you imagine, it is their wedding. How can someone do something like that. It is terrible."
Conlin said she managed to track down the exact dresses for several of the brides because a few of the gowns had been ordered. But they hadn't been paid for.
"[The owner of Classy Collection] ordered the dresses, but of course the manufacturers weren't shipping the dresses because she is not paying her bills."
Boston said she went straight to the police, who are now investigating this as a case of fraud.
In the meantime police say consumers need to be wary — always — but especially when asked to pay in cash.
"Do your homework call references. It takes time but it's worth it," said Const. Tony Vella. "The last thing you want to do is be scammed out of your hard earned money."
The women who paid for dresses weren't the only ones who lost money. The owner of the building says he is out thousands for the balance of the lease — and after investigating he discovered the name signed on the agreement isn't even real.