Dresses Seized From Prom Shop Auctioned
Dresses that used to belong to Red Carpet Pagenant and Prom Store went for as little as $5.
A $25 wedding dress. An entire rack of women’s gowns for $10 each. More than 40 children’s dresses sold for $210, the cost of just one of those dresses.
Hundreds of dresses and gowns flew off racks at an auction featuring merchandise from the Red Carpet Pageant and Prom store on Route 23 Wednesday morning.
Heater Reiss, a Clifton resident, purchased a wedding dress for less than a tank of gas.
“I already have a dress, but I can use this one if I loose a little weight,” said Reiss who is getting married in May. “You can’t go wrong really.”
The attorney general’s office took possession of the dresses after it filed a complaint accusing storeowners Patricia and Michael Dowling of engaging in unconscionable commercial practices and allegedly deceiving customers.
Elisa Fantozzi from Haskell was there looking for something for her daughter’s sweet 16 birthday party.
“She already has a dress but I thought it might be nice to surprise her with something a little nicer and more formal,” Fantozzi said.
Doorthy Kasten, the owner of Coco’s Chateau in Wayne, was interested in buying some display racks. All items were sold “as is.” Attendees also bid on display racks and counters, shoes, cash registers, and sewing machines.
Several girls who purchased prom dresses from Red Carpet said they never received them. Kasten and her staff helped the girls get their dresses in time for their prom, some with less than a week before it occurred.
“They were extremely grateful we were able to help them out,” Kasten said. “That is how you are supposed to treat your customers.”
Customers called the Wayne Police Department and state Department of Community Affairs to complain about the store.
Dowling reported that $20,000 worth of dresses were stolen from the store in May. She told police the dresses were taken out of the store through an unlocked rear door.
Police later watched a video from the store that they say showed Dowling removing 40 dresses off a rack and putting them into a storage room.
The attorney general’s office said the state would seek a default judgment against the Dowlings.
Proceeds from the auction will be held in an account controlled by a court-appointed receiver until a court order is issued on how they should be distributed.