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FIRE-RAVAGED BRIDAL SHOP TRYING TO MEND CUSTOMER RELATIONS

The owner of a Blasdell bridal shop ravaged by a suspicious fire last week is considering whether to leave the business.

But before Joyce Egan snips her ties with the outfitting of brides, she hopes to mend customer relations by either opening a temporary storefront or making an arrangement with one or two area bridal shops to complete unfinished transactions, she said Tuesday. An announcement is expected Friday.

"Right now, we're working with the insurance company," said Richard Smith, a Depew photographer serving as spokesman for It's Your Day bridal shop.

Hamburg Police Officer Michael Springer, said Tuesday that his investigation into the $300,000 blaze is continuing.

"The investigation at the scene is pretty much completed, but a lot of legwork needs to be done. We've ruled out all possible accidental causes," Springer said.

There were no signs of forced entry into the two-story structure at 129 Lake Ave., he said.

Smith, who found it hard to believe that anyone would want to damage the bridal shop, says he is looking forward to a reconciliation with customers who might be upset or dissatisfied.

John Grimaldi, an Amherst insurance agent for USF&G., the insurance carrier for It's Your Day, confirmed that efforts were being made to come up with funds so that the store can temporarily reopen at another location.

"This is one of the worst types of losses because it deals with so many emotions," Grimaldi said. "We're looking at the needs of all of the people involved."

He insisted that many brides-to-be have received assistance on how to make alternative arrangements for their wedding days. But members of several wedding parties complained Tuesday to The Buffalo News, saying they felt estranged from shop officials.

Kathleen A. McDonald of Blasdell, whose daughter's wedding dress was among the hundreds destroyed in the early morning fire Friday, begged for information on the whereabouts of five bridesmaids' dresses that reportedly are with the shop's seamstress at another site.

"We've paid for the dresses, and we do not have possession of them. We're told they're with the seamstress, and the wedding is Saturday," Ms. McDonald said. "They won't give us the name of the seamstress, so I'm asking that the seamstress contact me."

L. Jean Adams said she is desperately trying to find 10 bridesmaids' dresses as replacements in the 25-member wedding party for her daughter. "I've called asking for the purchase-order numbers on the dresses so that we can order them from the manufacturer, and the shop refuses to give me the number," Mrs. Adams said, estimating that the fire at the Lake Avenue shop cost her daughter's bridal party $2,300.

She also appealed for help from local dress merchants.

"I've purchased another bridal gown for my daughter, who's getting married in less than three weeks," she said. "But how can I afford to replace 10 bridesmaids' dresses? What I need is to get an agreement with a bridal shop to provide me with 10 hunter green dresses in the sizes I need and only pay the balances owed on the dresses that were lost in the fire."

Sharon E. Alfieri of Blasdell says she spent nearly the bulk of her honeymoon money to purchase a replacement wedding gown from a shop recommended by operators of It's Your Day.

"And the shop that was recommended was only offering fire victims free alterations, but then Bridal Chateau in Williamsville contacted me and gave me a free gown and veil. Now, that's what I call help," Miss Alfieri said.

Smith, of Sloan Photo Studio, said Mrs. Egan and her daughter, Donna Kloc, are working through the strain of the devastating fire but do not wish to speak publicly at this time.

"We've gotten over 600 calls since the fire, and we've satisfied over 100 brides," Smith said.

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