Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The "Boutique Experience"

It started out great. The first time I went in to pick bridesmaids dresses I was in the wheelchair with a toddler. No nasty looks at all. They even carried the wheelchair up the front steps since the building wasn't accessible. Perhaps that should have been a red flag. Maybe I should have boycotted on principle. Neither I nor my bridesmaids had big budgets, but I wanted to check it out.

They had the Jim Hjelm dress I's been mooning over at a reasonable price for a designer dress. I poured over the color book for a long time. They had black which way back then was what I thought I wanted, but they also had some greens. It was hard to decide based on teeny scraps of fabric in a book. Especially since dupioni silk changes color based on movement and light. They couldn't show me any dresses they were in the fabric and color I liked. They were very patient and friendly. Then again that was before they knew I wasn't buying a wedding dress from them.

Once I conferred with the girls about the design and budget I got really excited. They were all in. We scheduled a fitting for when my sister was down. It was a mistake to take everyone together or at least to hang out just outside the dressing room. Everyone was sad afterward. At the time I couldn't understand it.

It all became clear four months later when the dresses came in. They were across the board enormous. Like falling off, two sizes too big! It was ridiculous. I called the boutique who calmly clarified that bridesmaids dress are not made custom like wedding gowns. They have a chart from the designer they match the measurements to and if even one measurement is a 3/4" bigger they go up a size. So, what is the advantage of the boutique verses buying off the rack?

She went on to inform me that two weeks before the wedding the girls were welcome to come in and get alternations. She told me not to worry that they would only cost $20 dollars. So, we all relaxed a little. I was still kicking myself over choosing this place, but at least there was hope. In the meantime I requested a swatch of material for the florist 3 separate times and never received it. They sent a letter to my house informing the dresses were in so it wasn't an address issue.

Fast forward to this week. It is now two weeks before my wedding. My maid of honor went in for alterations. She was charged $75!! Apparently, it was $20 to take it in, $20 to fix the straps...and so on. WHAT?!? I was deliberately mislead. I can not believe they gave my girls enormous dress and than charged them just shy of $80 bucks to fix it.

I would NEVER use them again for anything. What a racket! I'm furious. Why didn't they ever send my swatch? Why didn't they educate me on the process? Why didn't they have the girls try on the dresses when they picked them up like they told me they would over the phone? Why weren't they honest about the alteration fees?

Do not use C.C.'s Boutique at 770 4th Avenue North St. Petersburg, FL 33701. They are not wheelchair accessible. They are not informative or as it turns out honest. I plain to review them everywhere that allows a review and to inform them as much. I really thought paying for a designer gown would entitle the girls to royal treatment. I feel dirty after the experience.

Upon further research it seems many girls have had similar issues. Dresses that are too big, but especially grossly misquote alterations prices. If you're interested go to google reviews after the first two their terrible. At Best Tampa Bay Weddings scroll down on the first page to Morgan's review on 10/7/11. I wish I'd read it first. She ends with " I do not want to waste another minute of my time in that factory of a "bridal boutique."The moral of the story is customer service here. This was not my best experience. I wish it could have been better, but unfortunately it was not. I do not recommend this store to anyone looking to get married, and bridesmaids, don't expect the red carpet to be rolled out. You might as well take a number at the door upon entering just like you do at the DMV. They are looking to roll you in and out as quickly as possible." I think she summed it up well!


  1. Ridiculous and disappointing. I hope word gets around and either they change their practices (doubtful) or people stop using them.

  2. I wasn't in a chair until recently, and it is amazing how in 2012 it is SO difficult to go anywhere. I can't believe what I have been through in the past year. Getting screamed at for parking in a handicapped space to "looks" like good grief she's in a chair, we are going to have to rearrange the whole restaurant to fit her in here. The only place I have really been treated good is Fantastic Sam's. They are very handicapped friendly up here in Homosassa.

  3. I went to CC's a looong time ago for a prom dress. They were all nice and sunshine until they found out everything was out of my price range. Then they were snooty and acted like they couldn't wait for us to leave. That was over 10 years ago and I will never go back there. Sorry you had such a bad experience!

  4. had a not so good experience at Cici's, too. They were very sweet and pleasant in the beginning, but everything got messed up by the end and I ended up selling that dress on craigslist for way less then I paid for it and buying something last minute at Dillards. Rebekah

  5. oh Katie, I am so sorry! that is a horrible story!!! :( Stacy


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