NJ Attorney General To Prom Dress Rescue

Attorney general tells girls who purchased a dress from seized Wayne shop that their gowns have been secured

Four days after the state seized the assets of a Wayne dress shop whose owner , New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa told girls that his office is keeping their gowns under lock and key.

The state filed a complaint against on Tuesday, accusing it of violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in “unconscionable commercial practices, false promises, misrepresentation, and deception.”

A judge ordered a temporary freeze of owner Patricia Dowling’s assets and the impounding of the merchandise in the store, and granted the Division of Consumer Affairs permission to change the locks.

Twenty-five dresses remain in the store, Chiesa said, 15 of which were purchased by prom-goers and need to be picked up. Sixteen customers allegedly paid Red Carpet a total of $5,400 for dresses that have not been provided.

“We’ll do everything we can to get your dress to you,” Chiesa said during a press conference held outside the Route 23 shop Friday afternoon.

Dana Bandarek, a Vernon high school senior, received her dress earlier in the day, and her mother said she was "very grateful" for the efforts of the attorney general and the DCA.

The store took orders and payment for dresses earlier this year, but shut down operations in the middle of prom season, the complaint alleges. Several people called the Wayne Police Department and the DCA to complain that they did not receive their dresses despite paying for them.

"The store in this business knows that there is a time component to these dresses and there's a personal component to these dresses," Chiesa said. "In the event that we don't get the dresses back to [buyers], whatever recourse we can help them with we'll be happy to do that."

The state is seeking a permanent freeze of the Dowling’s assets, full restitution, and the imposition of civil penalties, costs and fees. The parties are due in court on June 29.

Dowling notified police that $20,000 in dresses was stolen from the store in mid-May. She alleged that the rear door of the facility was left unlocked.

Police later watched video from the store that they say shows Dowling removing 40 dresses off a rack and placing them in a storage room. Dowling originally told police that cameras at the business do not record.

Dowling was issued a summons for filing a false police report, police said.

Dowling was scheduled to appear in Wayne Municipal Court Thursday, but failed to appear, Detective Capt. James Clarke said. Judge Peter Weiss issued a $500 bench warrant for her arrest.

Consumers who are seeking garments or a refund from Red Carpet may contact the DCA at 973-504-6321. They need to provide documentation they purchased a dress in order to obtain it.

Chiesa said some of the dresses might not be altered to a customer's specifications.

Sandy Fantau June 08, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I hope the girls can get their prom dresses. However, aren't most proms over by now. I feel bad for the kids.
Scondo June 09, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Yes, there is a human story here. the young people do look forward to the event, looking beautiful for a night, and some would be disappointed. The other human story is the readily apparent failure of another small local business succumbing to financial pressures. I feel for the shop owner who quite clearly hit the wall. Walk a mile in her moccasins . Those who collect paychecks often times can't recognize the pressure on the owner or the entrepreneur . I hope it works out for all concerned.
Nose Wayne June 09, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Scondo, she allegedly faked a $20,000 theft !! False promises,deception, and you FEEL for the owner? If that was a family member that did not get their dress, would you still FEEL for them?
Chris Schillander June 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
NOSE, you are absolutely correct. She has done this before, in other stores, 1 in westwood and one down south (Deptford, i think). This is NOT succombing to financial pressures, this is out-right deception and thievery. I'm sorry, when you do this, fake a police report, your partner splits from you, and other things, you are not unfortunate, you are a thief!
Nose Wayne June 09, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Glad to see the Attorney General step in and do the right thing. Hey Chris, STRIKE THREE SHE OUT!! (Hopefully for a long time) Bench warrant for her arrest ? Gee Isn't that shocking. Another NO SHOW!!
Diane June 10, 2012 at 01:24 AM
This same store and woman tried to do something similar two years ago to my mother who wanted to purchase a mother of the bride dress from them. We called for months trying to find out where the dress was only to finally be told "that dress isn't made anymore"... really they never ordered it and were trying to sell us the sample. Thankfully we got our money back and an online store was able to get the dress. The store was bad news from the start. An insider has told me that Trish Dowling was only doing this as a hobby to get more involved in pageantry... what a joke.
Nose Wayne June 10, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Diane, nice hobby, stick it to as many people as possible and take the money and run.Just hope the AG puts her away for a long time so she doesn't put any more people thru her hobby.
Rachel Bagel June 11, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Many businesses who sell prom gowns, dont want to deal with the problems that come along with the industry. There are many reputable businesses in northern nj, but then, there are stores, who have bad reputations with producing horrible alterations and poor customer service. I know from experience. One in particular is in Wayne as well.
Nose Wayne June 11, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Rachel,USE to be in Wayne, AG closed it down.Read the story on PATCH.
Rachel Bagel June 11, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Nose- you are not understanding what I wrote. There is currently another prom store in Wayne, NJ, which has a reputation for shoddy alterations and poor customer service. It has not been shut down by the AG. It is still in business. It is open, unfortunately.


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