Scores of women searching for their wedding gowns as consignment store shuts its doors
If not claimed in 2 weeks, remaining gowns will be donated to a charity
Scores of women don't know it yet, but the dresses they were married in could soon be sent to a charity, and re-made into burial gowns for stillborn infants.
It's happening because a west Toronto consignment store that specialized in bridal wear closed its doors last month, without telling at least some of the women who'd handed over their wedding dresses for resale, several of those women have told CBC Toronto.
The shop — called Eyes on Me Bridal on St. Clair Avenue at Dufferin Street — was run, several of the customers said, by Alice Cabral.
Sabrina Lombardi is one of the lucky women who managed to track down her gown, along with scores of other wedding dresses, at Marsha Clyne Wedding and Event Designs on Lake Shore Boulevard.West in Etobicoke.
But it took weeks of sleuthing on social media, and her mother's help, she said. She believes Eyes on Me Bridal was holding about 200 wedding dresses.
"I went on Yelp, to find that other brides were having the same issue. They were looking for their dresses," she said.
"We're all wondering where [Alice Cabral] disappeared to."
Marsha Clyne told CBC Toronto that she agreed to store some of the dresses for Cabral, whom she'd known for a couple of years, last month.
But she says that she too has been unable to find the woman since the dresses were dropped off earlier this year.
Although Clyne says she's not sure exactly how many dresses were dropped off at her shop, Lombardi said her research has led her to believe that about 200 dresses were at Eyes on Me Bridal.
Clyne says she's been inundated with calls and visits from upset women, who say they only found out where their gowns could be through social media and word of mouth.
At the Lash and Beauty Boutique, which operates from the storefront that was occupied by Eyes on Me Bridal until earlier this year, an employee who didn't want to be identified said she regularly takes calls from angry women looking for their lost gowns.
CBC Toronto has called a phone number for Alice Cabral, provided by Lombardi, but she has not answered and messages left there have not been returned.
According to the provincial Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, no complaints have been lodged by the public against either Eyes on Me Bridal or Alice Cabral.
Another bride, Reeshma Ramnarine, also of Toronto, visited Clyne's shop along with CBC Toronto on Wednesday. But despite searching the racks for about a half hour, she was unable to find the dress that she left at Eyes on Me Bridal last July.
Ramnarine, who is eight months pregnant, said she expected her dress would sell for about $800.
"I went through every single rack it could possibly be in," she said. She said the dress, which was for her wedding three years ago, was given to her by her mother.
"It's sentimental and I don't really know where to go from here," she said.
Clyne said she has limited paperwork on the dresses she agreed to store, but is doing her best to match the dresses that now hang on her racks with their rightful owners.
The owners of about 15 of those gowns have still not been identified. She has managed to attach a name to scores of others, but can't reach them, she says.
'Angel Gown Project'
As for the rest, she says she's contacted each of the women and is simply waiting for them to pick up their dresses.
But Clyne, who says she wouldn't normally be selling wedding dresses, new or used, says she's losing patience with the search, and will stop looking for the owners by the end of this month.
Any dresses that are still on her premises then will be donated, she says, to an international charity called The Angel Gown Project, which has a local affiliate in Ontario.
The charity's workers take donated wedding dresses and re-make them into burial gowns which are donated to the parents of stillborn babies, or newborns who have died.