Bride-to-be Tess Iriarte excitedly scanned the racks of deeply discounted wedding dresses -- just $299 apiece, signs with bright yellow lettering screamed -- looking to find her dream dress for her special day.
Iriarte drove all the way from Palmdale to visit the former Alfred Angelo Bridal store in West Covina -- the same store where, back in July, devastated brides were in tears after the Florida-based chain abruptly shuttered its stores nationwide, leaving many without wedding items that had already been paid in full.
But on Thursday, a new crop of eager brides -- Iriarte included -- came from far and wide to take advantage of a major sale as the store temporarily reopened to liquidate its inventory. Dresses that once cost $1,200, $1,500 or more could be bought for a fraction of the price.
"More money for the wedding, and the honeymoon, and making babies," Iriarte said, laughing.
The bridal retailer did not notify its customers before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and suddenly closing all 60 locations around the U.S. last July. Most learned of the sudden closure when they went to pick up their dresses, and were instead met by locked doors and a cryptic sign informing them only that the store "was closed for the day. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Many incensed brides-to-be-around the country were left in the lurch after paying hundreds of dollars for a dream dress that they were unable to pick up.
It wasn't until three days later the company issued a statement acknowledging and apologizing for the situation. While the company tried to fulfill orders, the statement said, it would be unable to do so. Instead, they provided a link for customers to file a claim for money owed.
Store manager Mariam Gezalian lost her job when the West Covina store last year, but was brought back temporarily for the liquidation sale.
A liquidator company stepped in and bought the merchandise to sell at steep discounts, she explained, holding up brand new dresses featuring intricate beadwork, lace and tulle -- all with price tags of $299.
It's not just wedding dresses that are on super sale; bridesmaid dresses can also be purchased in the store for $99.
As it turned out, Iriarte didn't need to spend hours looking for the perfect dress -- she chose the first gown she was shown.
"I'm getting married on the beach. So I just wanted something simple and elegant," the bride-to-be said, holding the train of a stunning and flowy ivory-colored gown with detailed lace embroidery.
Iriarte didn't know anything about the store or the bankruptcy, telling KTLA she was thrilled that one of her bridesmaids chanced upon the sign when she drove by it recently.
The store will be open Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and until the dresses are all gone.