INDIANAPOLIS — An online shop and storefront to help women dress their best — that's how customer Autumn Lee felt about Dottie Couture Boutique in Indianapolis.
"I do have to go into work every day, and you're kind of judged by your appearance, so I want to make sure that I look presentable," Lee said.
And that's the type of clothing Lee felt she could find at Dottie's for more than a decade, unique items she calls "dressy casual."
"For the most part, not everybody had what I had, so that was kind of fun," Lee said.
Lee even became a "Dottie Ambassador" on social media. If buyers used Lee's promotional code, she would earn a commission, paid via PayPal, money that she would sometimes turn around and spend at Dottie.
In mid-September, the store announced a buy one, get one gift card promotion. Lee purchased one. Almost a month later, Lee and others got an email from the store announcing its closure. The owner cited the pandemic as a reason.
The announcement sent on Tuesday told customers they had until Friday to buy items at a discount. That meant Lee had only a few days to spend her more than $200 in store credit.
"Probably 20 minutes after they announced [the closure], most of the stuff I had originally wanted was gone," Lee said.
Teresa Ulmer, of Fremont, also purchased gift cards during the September "BOGO" promotion.
"I purchased $100 worth for Christmas gifts, which would have made it $200," Ulmer said.
When Ulmer got the closure email, she too hopped online quickly and tried to buy.
"There was nothing to purchase, nothing online," Ulmer said, with nothing online and nothing in their store near the Fashion Mall. "There's a lot of people that would like to have their money back."
And they're not the only ones.
Customers from all over Indiana reached out to 13News about their store credit, as well as some from out of state.
Jennifer Adamany, with the Better Business Bureau, said there is always a risk when you buy a gift card.
"When you're buying a gift card, you're essentially giving the company a loan until you redeem that value," Adamany said.
As for a solution, first ask for a refund. If that doesn't work, try calling your credit card company.
"Let them know the situation, that you had purchased a gift card, the business had gone out of business. And so you're trying to see what your options are to get the money back," Adamany said
As for the customers, they just want answers from the store owner.
"I pray that everything's OK with them, but I guess I don't understand why you would have a buy one get, one gift card promotion if there's something financially wrong, and then to close down a few weeks later, and then not give everybody a chance to use up their money," Ulmer said.
13News reached out to the store's owner via email, their website and phone numbers associated with the business and have not heard back as of Friday morning.
According to state records, Brooke Magdzinski started B Consulting Inc. in 2008, adding the name Lottie Dottie Boutique in 2010.
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