Prom Gowns Auctioned Off After Store Stiffs Students

At first glance you see glittery gowns, dreamy dresses for proms, weddings, sweet 16's.  But now Red Carpet pageant and Prom is a store of broken promises  after owner Tricia Dowling, seen on her website with some of the New Jersey beauty queens she helped catapult to fame, shut up shop in June, snatching buyers deposits on the way out.

An auction company was brought in to sell everything left to the bare walls, and that’s where we found Mirjeta Dauti of Pequannock was looking at scooping up a dozen gowns to ship overseas.  “I have no idea what's wrong with these people.  How can you do that to people, you know?” mused Dauti of the owners and the way they took deposits, but never delivered dresses. 

Tanya Palumbo, herself and owner of a dress store Coco Chateau, had another theory, "It's bad work ethi ; they don't know how to run a business it's more about themselves."

Everything in the shop was being sold for pennies on the dollar by court order--dresses worth hundreds or thousands going for as little as $5 each.

A married couple from Flatbush, Brooklyn, who own the Bibi Dress Shop, came to Wayne hoping to make big profits on the low-priced auction gowns.  Farida Rehaman said, “You buy them, but you can't get rid of everything.  So you have to make sure you’re getting right price.”

And another entrepreneur said he already scored big profits at a previous dress shop auction when he shipped everything to his friend in Colombia. 

Luis Gallego of Elizabeth said his friend was able to sell them for $2,000 to $3000 each, after paying a mere $20 for each lavish gown at auction.

But the tiaras and sparkly shoes had a tarnish about them.  Detractors saying Tricia Dowling is the beast of the beauty business.  Sources tell us she was kicked off the Miss New Jersey pageant where she held a director's job until a year ago.  Fellow shop owners said she'd abruptly closed two other dress shops.

A court appointed attorney though was satisfied that a few young women were able to rescue precious prom gowns.

Andrea Sullivan, the lawyer overseeing auction recounted an encounter earlier in the summer.  “We were very happy to come up, find her dress.  The senior girl put it on, it fit her perfectly, so that was a really lovely story.”

All the money raised at Wednesday’s auction of selling gowns, shoes, jewelry, even the display racks will go to the 100 women who've filed complaints with the Consumer Affair’s Department that they never received dresses they paid for, the landlord, even the utility company