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XOXO Bridal vacates downtown Medford shop

A new Southern Oregon bridal shop owned by the same woman who allegedly left numerous Arizona brides without wedding gowns last year vacated its downtown Medford storefront this week and has removed its website.

Dozens of bridal gowns have been cleared from the racks at the site of XOXO Bridal Gallery in the New Medford Apartments building at 406 W. Main St., and there’s a For Lease sign visible.

Accessing the business’ website leads to an error page, but a sign taped to the door says the shop has moved to a new Medford location at 328 S. Central Ave. A woman locking the complex of office suites Thursday evening confirmed the bridal shop's new location.

Calling the phone number on the flier leads to a generic voice mailbox. Erica Kristine Mote, XOXO Bridal Gallery’s owner, did not return the Mail Tribune’s call.

Within a month of XOXO Bridal Gallery’s January opening, the business drew the ire of numerous Arizonans mobilized through Facebook who were outraged by similarities to Mote’s previous business, Pearl Bridal, which abruptly closed in Phoenix, Arizona, in spring 2018.

Arizona’s attorney general alleges that Pearl Bridal left hundreds of dress orders neither filled nor refunded; however, Mote disputed those numbers in a previous Mail Tribune story.

Rachel Mann of Paradise Valley, Arizona, said she contacted the landlord of the New Medford Apartments building because her two unfilled dress orders were a source of significant consternation at Pearl Bridal as Mann planned her overseas wedding.

“I just didn’t want her to continue to affect other brides,” Mann said.

Through the 387-member “Victims of Pearl Bridal” Facebook group, Mann found solidarity with others like her who had to figure out a different wedding gown after the shop closed May 14.

Mann originally followed group members’ leads in leaving one-star Google and Yelp reviews.

“I implore you to not use this shop for your wedding dress needs, and for the ladies who have already given them money, good luck. You won’t be getting your dress or your money back,” Mann said in her Google review.

She also left negative replies to every post of its then-active Instagram page. By the third week of February, XOXO Bridal Gallery had deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The Arizonans’ outrage overflowed to a shop in a third state. At least three allegedly jilted Pearl Bridal customers left negative reviews on pages belonging to an XOXO Bridal in Tiffin, Iowa, according to the Iowa shop’s social media manager. The Iowa shop is not affiliated with Mote or her Medford store in any way, the manager said.

Mann said that by late February, she shifted her focus from warning potential brides to the bridal shop’s place of business. She started by calling a nearby law firm, which gave her information about the New Medford Apartment complex.

Mann said she sent her receipts and other documentation to a property owner, who told Mann he saw minimal inventory and foot traffic at the shop.

Mann shared the following response with the Facebook group Feb. 27: “The Rogue Valley is a relatively ‘small town’ and the message was very clearly disseminated to the population through our local media outlets and review sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews. I’ve informed my corporate office and we are aware of the news coverage. The outcome is being deliberated by the building owners.”

Messages to the apartment complex’s property manager were not returned Wednesday or Thursday. Jackson County property records show that the property has been owned by CHC Housing Partners of Sherman Oaks, California since February 2017.

Mann said she isn’t trying to be vindictive. She’s trying to spare other brides out of how she felt May 15 — when she went from expecting to pick up her wedding dresses ahead of a rehearsal in Ireland to discovering the shop had closed the day prior and that she was “out two dresses” totaling $1,300.

She only found out about the closure when her calls went unanswered and she headed to the store and found it chained closed, Mann said. She hasn’t seen the $900 she spent for her gown, nor has her mother seen the $400 she spent for her reception dress.

“I have to do something,” Mann said.

Learning that Mote started the same business in Medford put Mann “in such shock,” she said. Mann wondered how Mote could start another business.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, which houses the state’s business registry, said the office doesn’t investigate or vet companies before they register a business, according to chief of staff Deb Royal. The office only has “ministerial” responsibilities for keeping the registrations updated, Royal said in an email.

“If we do get a complaint, we direct them to the Department of Justice,” Royal wrote. “Usually, consumer complaints are considered civil matters and would have to go through the courts.”

No complaints have been filed against XOXO Bridal Gallery with the Oregon Department of Justice’s consumer protection division, nor any with the Better Business Bureau; however, the nonprofit consumer protection agency now lists alerts related to Pearl Bridal on XOXO Bridal’s listing, including alerts in red related to a complaint filed by Arizona’s attorney general last September alleging that the shuttered Pearl Bridal left 286 dress orders unfilled, leaving about $277,000 in orders neither filled nor refunded.

The BBB listing also includes a link to an article with tips for buyers of wedding, prom and other special occasion dresses. Among them: don’t pay 100 percent up front when buying a wedding dress, check the cancellation policy, check BBB.org before buying and “take your dress home.”

“After your alterations are finished, promptly pick up your dress. You can’t control what happens at the store where you found a prom dress or wedding dress — it might even go out of business — so the safest place for your dress is at your home,” the BBB says.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Lia Halt of Phoenix, Arizona wears the wedding dress she purchased in March 2018, but never received, at the shuttered Pearl Bridal in Arizona.{ } Submitted photo.