Bridal boutique swarmed in controversy relocates two months after opening
Just two months after opening, a bridal boutique swarmed in controversy moved from their downtown space, removing their website, Facebook Page and phone number along with it.
A note taped to the window of the former XOXO Bridal location points potential customers to their new spot at 328 S. Central Avenue. A sign at the new suite displays the name Erica Mote, an alias of Erica Miltenberger, plus what looks like the new name of her shop: 406 bridal.
The apparent new name resembles the address of her former location-- 406 west main street, but it's Miltenberger's Arizona business that had customers concerned.
XOXO Bridal, owned by Erica and Tyson Miltenberger, came under fire once a group of Arizona brides tracked down the new shop.
The Miltenbergers formally owned Pearl Bridal in Phoenix, Arizona, but in May of 2018, they abruptly closed their doors. A pending lawsuit from Arizona's Attorney General claimed the shop failed to fill more than $277,000 worth of orders to 286 brides.
Former Pearl Bridal stylist Kelly Wolfer worked at the shop for about nine weeks before resigning, partially because some of Miltenberger's business habits made her uncomfortable.
"There was some pretty messed up things happening," she said.
Among them, Wolfer said dresses were frequently delayed in getting to brides. Even when the orders did arrive, they were often the wrong size, color or design, she said. According to Wolfer, Miltenberger was the sole person responsible for ordering gowns.
"There were times when brides would be coming to pick up their dress that they had purchased, but for whatever reason it didn't get ordered right," said Wolfer. "We would end up giving them a floor sample. They thought they were getting a new dress, when actually they were getting a floor sample that had been tried on several times."
Wolfer said stylists were also trained to answer basic questions with misleading responses. If a bride asked who designed the dresses, stylists were to say Miltenberger did. If they asked where the dresses were made, they were told to say the shop was headquartered in Portland.
Additionally, Wolfer claimed that Miltenberger would regularly post stock photos of dresses on the boutique's Facebook page, leading brides to come in looking for that particular dress. Stylists were then instructed to say that dress was out of stock, and would offer other dresses for them to try on.
"I straight up would say 'I don't know. I don't know where it's made, I don't know who designed it' rather than lie," said Wolfer. "I felt like I was used in a scheme that did not at all reflect on my character."
Both Wolfer and the lawsuit brought on by the Attorney General's Office claim the Miltenbergers posted fake reviews online, posing as would-be customers and family members. She said those fake profiles would often use easily found stock or internet photos.
Wolfer even outlined one scenario where Miltenberger allegedly left a Facebook review with a fake profile using her newborn daughter's name and photo.
Miltenberger did not return calls from News 10 on Friday afternoon, however she did respond to questions in a previous story on XOXO Bridal. During a phone interview, she said her family was forced to close Pearl Bridal for a variety of personal and medical reasons, including the premature birth of her daughter.
She said a store manager also left unexpectedly, causing disorganization in the shop that led to frequent incorrect orders. After scores of bad reviews, she claimed she thought the shop would be unable to recover.
"There is part of me that did have a little bit of compassion for her, that it just snowballed beyond what she could control," said Wolfer.
But that compassion changed to frustration when she heard Miltenberger opened another store in Medford, using the same marketing schemes as she did in Phoenix.
"It just kind of showed me she had every intent of doing it again," said Wolfer.
As of Friday night, News 10 was unable to confirm why the shop changed its name and location in Medford.
A property manager outside of the building said he was not allowed to comment on why the business moved, but provided contact information for PK Management, the out-of-state company that manages the building. The office was closed when News 10 reached out for comment.
"I think that's probably the reason why she opened the new shop-- because she couldn't escape all of the bad reviews that people were posting," said Wolfer. "I don't think she's ever going to be able to escape it. Not until she makes things right."