The sudden closure of a formalwear shop in Clarenville has left many people scrambling — not only to secure deposits paid for dresses previously ordered — but to ensure they will have a dress in time for fast-approaching graduations.
With a short Facebook post on Friday, Jan. 31, Always and Forever Formalwear announced its closure.
“Store closing permanently, will phone about layaways in the back within the next couple of days,” read the message.
The surprise announcement has caused some distress for people who had made deposits on their dresses.
Kim Gordon of Glovertown says her Grade 12 daughter is one of them.
Gordon told The Packet she and her daughter visited the store on Dec. 10 and ordered a dress. The dress was not in stock, she says, but had to be ordered from the supplier.
Gordon says they paid a $305 deposit and were assured the dress would be in Clarenville by the end of February.
Now they don't have a dress, and have no idea if they will get their deposit back.
The store itself has been in business in Clarenville for about 20 years.
Since 2017 it's been owned by Stacey Ho.
Just last year Ho took to social media to advertise the fashions available at the store, and to interact with potential customers beyond Clarenville.
However, since the abrupt closure of the business, Ho has not responded to The Packet’s request for an interview.
Gordon says she sympathizes with anyone who has to close a business, but she and others would like to have some answers about their deposits, and the dresses ordered.
After the initial Facebook post by Always and Forever Formalwear, a dress supply company in British Columbia, Grad Central, offered to fill the Gordon’s order with a 20 per cent off discount.
Gordon says she decided to go that route. She paid the full amount for a dress the same style as the one they ordered from the Clarenville shop, and will have it shipped directly from Grad Central.
But not all graduates and their families can afford to do that, Gordon adds.
She says she feels bad for the owner, but wants more clarification.
“The only acceptable resolution for me is: I want my money back. Whether or not I’ll get it, I don’t know.”
She adds, “The longer she’s silent, the worse it looks.”
The Packet tried to contact the owner of Always and Forever for comment but Ho had not replied by Feb. 5,
On the business Facebook page that day, however, Always and Forever Formalwear provided some information for customers.
It dispelled rumours that receivership had taken control of stock, assuring dresses on layaway were safe.
The company wrote, “If you have ordered a dress, it has been ordered. Stacey has an account of everything and all orders were placed. Her first priority is to get your dresses to you, and if that’s not possible to move to other solutions.”
The post noted the owner has been talking to suppliers to figure out solutions for everyone who ordered dresses.
“Please be patient, she’s working on it,” the post read.
"While the situation is hard for everyone, please keep in mind that it’s been especially hard on Stacey. At this time she isn’t responding to comments or messages, but she is working hard behind the scenes for you all and making the phone calls herself, and she truly does appreciate the kind things and well wishes people have sent.”