CHICAGO (WLS) -- Bridal shop chain Brideside has closed two locations in Chicago in the West Loop and Lincoln Park, leaving some customers without dresses or refunds.
Chearee Hardt was looking forward to being a bridesmaid at her friend's wedding.
"We were very excited that they were finally getting married," Hardt said. "She was having her happy ending."
She said she and the six other bridesmaids ordered their dresses from Brideside.
Hardt says their dresses were supposed to be shipped to Brideside's West Loop location when they were ready for pickup, but she said Brideside closed its stores temporarily due to the pandemic.
"So I wasn't thinking anything of it," she said. "I was like okay, her wedding got postponed, I will pick it up when things open back up."
But last week, she said she received an email informing customers the business would be closing permanently.
Brideside founder and CEO Nicole Staple said in the email, "Our team worked tirelessly throughout COVID to support impacted brides and bridesmaids. But with two-thirds of weddings cancelled in 2020 and an uncertain year ahead, our chapter has come to an end...If you have questions about (a) past or upcoming order, we have included a detailed list of all designer contacts below as we are no longer able to field inquiries."
But Hardt said when the bridal party tried contacting the designer, they discovered a big problem.
"The designer told the bride that she looked up all of our order numbers and they were never paid for so the designer can't reimburse us or make us a new dress," she said.
The Chicago woman is not alone.
Monica Dubiel said she ordered bridesmaid dress for her cousin's wedding. Like Hardt, she learned from the email that the bridal shop closed.
The Plainfield woman said she called the dress designer and was told they couldn't help her because Brideside was in possession of the dress.
"If they knew they were closing in advance, they could say 'Hey, if you have final orders make sure you pick them up. We're closing in a couple weeks,' but just nothing," Dubiel said.
Both she and Hardt said they are confused and angry.
"At first I felt bad because they didn't make it through COVID and then immediately when they were unethical to not pay customers back, to not even just give me my dress, I'm livid," Hardt said.
The ABC7 I-Team has tried calling, emailing and messaging the CEO and founder, Nicole Staple, but have not heard back.
In situations like these when consumers feel they didn't receive a product that they paid for, you can usually dispute the charge with your credit card company, so long as you do so within a certain window.
Customers should also see if any other bridal shops are offering discounts to affected customers.
Full email from Brideside founder:
It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Brideside has shut its doors. For eight years our goal has been to support women during life's most meaningful moments. Our team worked tirelessly throughout COVID to support impacted brides and bridesmaids. But with two-thirds of weddings cancelled in 2020 and an uncertain year ahead, our chapter has come to an end.
For our employees Brideside was always more than a bridal company. For the more than 220 people who worked to build it, Brideside represented a powerful idea: That women could bring amazing technology to a male-dominated industry. That everyone deserves an opportunity to feel and be treated beautifully.
In 8 years, we dressed more than 80,000 people. Our employees, lovingly called #bridesiders, were dedicated to their customers and to one another. They worked hard to re-imagined the workplace for women with flexible work schedules, supportive maternity policies, and a culture of belonging. They worked hard to design dresses that were inclusively sized and fairly priced, and to create a community where you didn't need to act, look, or dress a certain way to fit in. They showed up for you every day and in doing so shared our most important core value with you: come as you are, all are welcome here.
We're honored that you came on this journey with us. If you have questions about past or upcoming order, we have included a detailed list of all designer contacts below as we are no longer able to field inquiries.
Co-Founder & CEO