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Trashing Merchandise—Retailers Do It All The Time

The recent public outcry over Edina's Priscilla of Boston trashing thousands of dollars in wedding gowns got me thinking about the time I spent dealing with damaged merchandise in retail.

People from coast to coast are talking about the trashing of designer wedding gowns at a now closed Edina boutique, .

Priscilla of Boston’s parent company David’s Bridal—which operates a that I worked at for six years—issued a formal apology Thursday:

Like many of you, we were disheartened by imagery of a small number of unsold bridal gowns being destroyed following a Priscilla of Boston salon closure in the Midwest. As the parent company of Priscilla of Boston, we fully understand the anger and frustration that many people are feeling about this occurrence.

While it has been Priscilla of Boston’s policy not to make donations of sample dresses that are in poor condition, we recognize that some of these dresses could possibly have gone to worthy causes. David’s Bridal has already begun bringing together all of the remaining Priscilla of Boston gowns to evaluate them and ensure that they are donated to our charitable partners wherever possible.

From all of us at David’s Bridal, we truly appreciate hearing your sentiments. We believe that every bride deserves a beautiful gown, and we will continue to honor that commitment.

, readers were asked to weigh in on whether it was wrong to trash the dresses. As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, 70 percent of those who cast a vote thought it was wrong to do so. The poll is still tabulating responses.

Now, having worked in every possible department at Richfield David’s Bridal, I can tell you that I definitely destroyed gowns during my time there. However, they were beyond repair—and it wasn’t done with a can of red spray paint, but rather a few quick snips of a scissors.

When a dress on the sales floor was damaged or dirty, it was sent to the alterations department for repairs and cleaning. Those that could not be repaired were damaged out and sent to back to the warehouse or—on rare occasions—destroyed in house. Most of the time the fabric was used for color swatches. Every bride or former bride knows how important color coordination is for the big day.

Further, before I landed the glamorous local editor job for Richfield Patch (wink), I “moonlighted” as a manager of an Aerosoles shoe store for two and a half years. Every month, I sorted through “damage” and “trash” worthy merchandise. The damages were sent to a shoe refurbishing company and then donated—so I was told. The trash items were destroyed even further and trashed.

Long story short, I’m sure there is a possibility that the boutique and David’s Bridal were a little lax on what they deemed as a dress in “poor condition.” However, this isn’t an unusual practice for most retailers. It isn't even unusual to just throw away overstock items. Once I saw a Claire's employee dump a box full of hair accessories. Why? Well there was nothing wrong with them, they just didn't sell. Look in the dumpster behind any retailer and you’ll be surprised what gets discarded rather than donated.

Of course, employees at the were unable to comment on the issue.

Darcy Cocharn January 06, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I have been also working in retail for the last twenty years and have experienced many clothing, shoe and accessory items that have needed to be destroyed. Why should this company have to donate anything? Did anyone do any research and find out if this company donates cash to any charities. Don't make them out to be the big bad wolf. It isn't against the law to destroy property that one owns. This is what happens in 90% of retail stores. I would like to know what the shop owner that "tipped" the story to the media, what she does with damaged merchandise in her store? Yes we are a wasteful country, I guess I would get a little more up in arms if it was food, toothpaste or medicine, you know, neccessities in life. Ok, there's my two cents and yes, that's all it's worth. I make sure to donate it next time. Darcy Cochran
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) January 06, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Hey Darcy! To my knowledge, it was a shopper who tipped off broadcast media about what was happening, took pics and sent them out. I found the story on Twitter today and saw that my counter part in Edina was working something up about it. And, obviously, having worked in the industry I didn't really get why it was such a big deal. I thought that was just how it was. But, as I said, I'm sure there could've been some better will done with the dresses. Also, why was this being done in a place where customers could see? Strange. Thanks for reading.
jaden January 07, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Thank you for your insight. We only want brides to walk down the aisle happy. Other then that no comment.
jaden January 07, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Oh and all our gowns are hand made. Gave me a new insight. Had a corporate visit and found that out."
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) January 07, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Hi Jaden. Did you work for Priscilla of Boston or David's Bridal?

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