September 26, 2006, 12:00 AM

Runaway bride: BrideSave.com abruptly closes shop

BrideSave.com, the top bridal industry e-retailer and a major player in the e-retailing industry, has mysteriously gone out of business. The company, which did $57 million last year in sales, jilted customers Friday via an e-mail saying it had shut down.

Midland, Texas-based BrideSave.com, the top bridal industry e-retailer and a major player in the Internet retailing industry, has gone out of business. The company is No. 135 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites. It reached $56.9 million in sales in 2005, a 40.4% increase over $40.5 million in 2004, according to Internet Retailer estimates.

Customers with orders in process on Friday received e-mail notifications from BrideSave.com that read: “We regret to inform you that we have closed our business. Since 1999, BrideSave has faithfully served thousands of brides and their wedding parties. We extend our sincerest apology. We cannot fill your order.”

There is no word on why the company closed or how or if customers with orders in process will get refunds. BrideSave.com’s web site has been inaccessible since Friday. The phone at the company’s headquarters continues to go unanswered. And e-mail sent to company president Rachel Ambler by Internet Retailer has received no reply.

“This is a complete surprise,” says Alan Fields, an author of consumer advocate books on the bridal industry. Fields and his wife, Denise, operate BridalGown.com, a research site, and WindsorPeak.com, an e-retail site that sells their books. “I spoke with BrideSave in July to get updated information about their site, and they had just launched a couple new initiatives, including a new local resources section that directed customers to bridal gown shops in their area.”

Industry analysts and consultants are baffled. Five contacted by Internet Retailer had not yet heard anything about the closure. The same was true for two of BrideSave.com’s competitors.

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