NJ dry cleaner takes 8 brides' wedding dresses, deposits and disappears

FAIR LAWN, New Jersey (WABC) -- More than a half dozen New Jersey brides say they paid hundreds to a dry cleaner to preserve their wedding dresses, but the owner disappeared.

Ashley Vitale and Amy Swoboda say they paid deposits to Mr. Mort Cleaners in Fair Lawn who promised to send out their fancy frocks to another company to clean, preserve and box them up, like one still displayed in the store's window.

But now the building is locked tight and its owner is nowhere to be found.

An eviction notice hangs on the front door as well as a handwritten note explaining that they went out of business.

The note includes a phone number to call, but Vitale and Swoboda say each time they called, they got the runaround.

"I got voicemail, but the voicemail was full," Vitale said. "The second time I called he answered and told me I had the wrong number."

"No answer each time I called," Swoboda said.

So the brides called for help on social media and found a friend who was among three more burned brides.

"I was angry. I was sad. I really didn't know what to think or what was going to happen at that point," Jocelyn Totten said.

Another bride, Tracy Walis, was desperate. Her plan was to eventually give her dress to her daughter.

"I'm six months pregnant with a baby girl so I wanted this dress for her to maybe use. Because I used part of my mom's dress in my wedding gown. I was devastated," Walis said.

The brides called the landlord who let some in to look.

"When I came in there was obviously no wedding dresses here," Vitale said.

"All I knew was somehow I needed to find someone who can help me find my dress," Totten said.

Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side tracked down the owner through his wife who was working at a local nail salon.

As soon as she found out what customers were crying about she got her husband over to the store.

Within hours of our calls, a total of eight brides met up with Mr. Mort's owner in his parking lot where he finally delivered their dresses.

Every one of their dresses were back in their arms, though none of them had been cleaned.

Mort said the coronavirus pandemic had put him out of business.

He apologized and refunded their deposits.

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