Losses from Ike are your gain

February 12, 2009 3:28:42 PM PST
If you love scoring a great deal, have we got a deal for you! High-end, designer wedding and prom dresses, that normally go for thousands of dollars are on sale for less than $100. [PHOTOS: See images of some of the dresses for sale]

And if it wasn't for Hurricane Ike, this sale would have never happened.

Gorgeous designer wedding dresses line the shop at Weddings by Debbie. Shop owner A.J. Ruley sells only the finest gowns.

"Most of the dresses we use are embroided, embellished with Swarkosi crystal," she said. "Everything is hand sewn."

So it was a devastating blow to the family business when Hurricane Ike destroyed about a third of the shop. "Basically the wind just kind of grabbed the top of the ceiling and peeled it like a can opener," said Ruley.

Inside the shop were 550 wedding gowns and about 800 prom dresses, ranging in price from $200 up to $3,500.

"They are high quality dresses," said Ruley.

Ruley felt the dresses had been compromised.

"Just the investment to try to clean those dresses is just astronomical," she said.

So she filed an insurance claim.

"We never know what the insurance companies are going to give us, so we have to be jack of all trades in a sense," said Charlie Wilson of Salvex's Salvage Company.

Wilson was sent by Ruley's insurance company. He purchased all the dresses, and while he normally sells to other companies in bulk...

"We really didn't find any takers, so we had a lot of women that said they wanted to get a deal on a wedding dress," said Wilson.

He's agreed to open up his salvage business to the public. That means all those expensive dresses that were at Weddings by Debbie are now being sold at Salvex for up to 95 percent off.

For example, one designer wedding dress that normally retails for $1,300 is now $100. Another gown with lace and crystal detail, which is usually about $1,800, is also $100. With the exception of a handful of couture gowns, every wedding dress is priced at $100.

If you're looking for a prom dress or an evening gown, the variety is endless and all are priced from $50 to $100. For example, one black dress we found retails for $300. At the shop, it's $50. A teal embellished evening gown is also $50.

"It's not like you are getting a cheap dress," said Wilson. "You are just getting it at a discount because it was involved in an accident."

So you're wondering where to go to score those deals. Well, Salvex is not a retail store, but they've agreed to open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They're downtown Houston at 723 Main, Suite 600. [MAP]. They're open from Friday, February 13 through February 15. To learn more about Salvex, you can log onto their web site or call them at (713) 229-9000

Two things to remember. All sales are final. And although we did not see any damage to the dresses, some may need a trip to the dry cleaner.

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