PORT RICHEY — It's been a tough stretch for Pasco lovebirds trying to find wedding apparel at two local businesses.
Last month, a group of women shopping at I Do Bridal at 6621 U.S. 19 said they paid owner Regina Porritt for wedding dresses. Porritt then posted a note on the door saying she was out of town, and hasn't been heard from since.
Now, customers of Broadway Tailors Formal Wear off U.S. 19 say they, too, have yet to receive merchandise and money after doing business with the store's owner, Matthew Delforno.
Jennifer Thompson stopped by Broadway Tailors Formal Wear for five tuxedos for her August wedding. Last month, everyone got fitted for the tuxes, and Thompson and a friend paid Delforno $367.
Thompson, 35, called the shop soon after, but the phone was disconnected. She stopped by, but it was empty, with a sign that said "closed for painting."
Thompson and other customers say they haven't heard from Delforno for weeks. Now, they're trying to find other shops to rent from.
"It's inconvenient," said Thompson, of Port Richey. "People in my wedding party have to run around and get sized all over again."
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Broadway Tailors was registered in 2002 at a location on State Road 54, according to the state Division of Corporations. The store moved to 9506 U.S. 19 sometime after November of 2006, records show.
The store, in Embassy Plaza just north of Gulfview Square mall, was mostly empty this week. Left behind were posters of male models in Calvin Klein tuxedos and the tangled legs of a mannequin on the shop's tiled floor.
Efforts to reach Delforno at home and at his business were unsuccessful. The property owner, Somerset Eagle Corp. in Tequesta, didn't return a reporter's phone call.
Few people have heard from Delforno, other than Trevor Davies.
Last month, Davies said Delforno called him and said he was going out of business.
Davies, a wholesaler who buys tuxedos and sells them to retail shops for a discount, purchased all of Delforno's inventory on June 24.
He said he paid $4,000 for 240 tuxedos.
"He (Delforno) told me he wants to look for another job," Davies said. "He said he wasn't making money."
Thompson said when she stopped by Delforno's store and saw the store cleaned out, she didn't know what to think.
Eventually, Delforno called and told her his wholesaler went out of business. He said he would send her money back. Thompson hasn't received it.
He referred her to Romantic Creations & Designs in Hudson, a store that rents tuxedos. Thompson is working with the Hudson store to get her tuxedos.
She also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau about Delforno's store.
So did Stacie Shane.
Shane thought she struck gold when she found the rare color of tuxedo — apple red — that she wanted for her wedding party.
Shane, 22, of Port Richey said she paid Delforno $600 — a $100 deposit and $500 for the tuxedos.
She picked up the tuxedos a few days before her March 30 wedding. Problems arose when her father went back to the store to return them after the wedding.
"He (Delforno) told my dad I couldn't get my (deposit) back," she said. "He said I would be disbursed a check in the mail."
Shane thought that was odd, but didn't think much of it during her honeymoon in Clearwater the next week.
A few weeks later, her father asked if she ever got her money back.
Shane hadn't. She called the shop, but no one picked up. She eventually spoke to Delforno in person.
"He said he had to get in touch with his business people who handled money to prove I wasn't already sent a check and lying about it," she said.
Two weeks ago, Shane said Delforno called her and said she could come pick up the $100 in cash. Her stepfather went instead, and Shane said he was told the money wasn't available at the time.
Shane sees the lost deposit in practical terms, like gas money for her husband, who drives to Crystal River everyday for work as a movie theater's general manager.
"I'm not saying $100 is a lot," Shane said, "but I do want my money back."
Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this story. Camille C. Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.