Woman gets wedding dress back after it was donated to Goodwill – The Washington Post
On Monday morning, Amber Skinner’s phone lit up repeatedly with messages from strangers about the eBay listing she posted last week.
Skinner, an avid thrifter, was reselling a wedding dress she bought at an Arkansas Goodwill for about $50.
But the online sleuths who messaged her said the dress had been accidentally donated to Goodwill. Skinner, 34, learned that Bailey Dobson, who originally bought the dress for her December wedding, was searching for it, enlisting the help of friends and Facebook groups in the Bentonville, Ark., area. Skinner quickly closed the eBay listing and arranged a meeting with Dobson on Monday afternoon to return the dress, which Dobson will wear for her ceremony as planned.
“She’s making the wedding happen the way I’ve always dreamed it to happen,” Dobson, 19, said of Skinner.
Dobson went dress shopping with her mother and her fiancé’s mother in late March while she was home from college during spring break. She had gone to a bridal shop in Rogers, Ark., where she was planning only to browse.
But when she tried on one gown in particular — with a patterned bodice, sheer sleeves and a long skirt — she knew it was the dress she’d wear for her wedding.
Dobson placed an order for the dress to be made and shipped. It arrived in June.
When she and her bridesmaids went to pick it up, Dobson asked that the dress be placed in an opaque bag so it could remain a surprise for the wedding day. She stored it in a spare bedroom at her family’s home, zipped in a light pink bag alongside her old prom and homecoming dresses and her mother’s wedding gown.
But Dobson’s parents were also in the process of moving. While Dobson and her fiancé were away on vacation in late July, her family had a garage sale.
They pulled all the dresses out of the closet — including Dobson’s wedding gown.
On the drive back to Bentonville on Aug. 5, Dobson saw a photo from the garage sale on her brother’s Instagram account. In the corner, she saw a splash of light pink.
She assumed it was an old dress but still called her mother, Nicole Dobson, “just to triple check” that the pink bag holding her dress hadn’t mistakenly been brought outside.
That’s when her mother realized the dress had been put out for the sale. But even though no one bought it, it was still gone.
After the garage sale, her parents had donated what was left. And by the time they drove to the Goodwill to ask about the dress, the workers there, who remembered seeing it, said someone had already bought it.
“I was very shocked,” Dobson said. “I wasn’t sure what to do.”
She panicked as she thought about needing to find a new dress, but Dobson held out a little hope that her perfect wedding gown would somehow find its way back to her.
Dobson spoke with local news outlets to share the story. A family friend posted about the missing dress in a Northern Arkansas Facebook group. Goodwill Industries of Arkansas also made a post about the dress, writing “ATTENTION BENTONVILLE GOODWILL SHOPPERS! We need your help.”
By Monday, people had found the dress online, and Skinner had taken down her eBay listing. She reached out to Dobson’s friend who had left her contact information on the Facebook post so she could return the dress.
Within hours, Skinner had plans to meet Dobson and her mother at a restaurant to do just that. The pink garment bag was gone, so Skinner covered it in a white plastic bag.
“I just can’t imagine how much stress they had been going through,” Skinner said.
Dobson said seeing the dress again once she got home felt like “opening a present.”
“I really got to soak it all up and look at it in full,” Dobson said.
She asked Skinner for her address and plans to mail her a wedding invitation. Skinner, who is in law school, said she will attend if the ceremony doesn’t conflict with her final exams.
“It’d be nice for everybody to meet her,” Dobson said. “She’s like the miracle worker of the day.”