EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

July 30, 2013

Landlord of defunct boutique returns gowns, dresses to owners

HAVERHILL — After the owner of a bridal consignment shop left town and closed her doors leaving thousands of dollars in bridal gowns still locked inside, her landlord decided to take action.

He was granted an eviction along with possession of the store’s contents. But instead of keeping it and maybe trying to sell it all, he began contacting customers who’d left dresses and other bridal items there on consignment. One of the bridal gowns had a price tag of $5,300.

“Since they were all consignment items, I didn’t feel like I had the right to them,” said Jim Ryan, who owns the building in Lafayette Square that housed Bride To Bride Boutique.

Ryan, 57, said the key to reaching out to customers was a four-inch thick binder containing the names and contact information of customers the shop owner had left in the lurch when she departed for Florida without warning in January.

The two storefronts at 26 and 30 Lafayette Square that housed the bridal boutique were formerly home to Ruth’s House, but after eight years there it outgrew the location and moved to a larger space on the other side of the square. Ryan, who also operates RPM Home Improvements and Property Management in Haverhill is also chairman of the board of Ruth’s House, a non-profit thrift store.

In February, police in Haverhill said they’d been contacted by several people who complained they placed their wedding dresses on consignment but were unable to contact the shop owner. Some customers told The Eagle-Tribune that in addition to telling police, they also filed consumer complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.

Ryan said he’d rented the two storefronts to Margaret Sims late last fall and that she began moving her bridal boutique inventory from a storefront she operated for over a year at 63 Wingate St. He said the business seemed to be a good fit for the location.

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