Frustration over consignment store closings

April 3, 2013 3:25:20 PM PDT
During the economic downturn, consignment stores grew in popularity. More and more of them popped up in the tri-state area.

Now, a growing number appear to be closing, leaving some consignors in the lurch.

People consign their items with the hopes of making some extra cash. The store gets a percentage of what the item sells for, and the consignor gets the rest.

But we have two examples of stores in our area that are closing, leaving angry consignors complaining about missing items and money.

"I'm hurt, and I'm really hurt because I trusted somebody," said Roseanne Kuttner of Warminster, Pa.

She trusted Doug Walter, who owned Consignment Showplace in Warrington, Pa.

But Kuttner, her friend Anne Loisch of Frankford, and many others say Walter betrayed that trust by closing down shop and failing to give back their items.

"I'm devastated," said Loisch. "I'm thinking this is a sham. I'm thinking he got into this to get as much as he could, and then he packed up and left."

Kuttner says she gave Walter more than $5,000 worth of merchandise to sell at his consignment store. Now Kuttner is left wondering where hundreds of her valued items are.

"He told me he wasn't going to have the store anymore because he does better on eBay," said Kuttner.

She sued Walter and won a judgment of almost $3,000.

Walter is now appealing that case and another judgment against him for $3,600. That lawsuit was filed by a couple who says they never got paid for items they consigned.

Warrington Police say they've received 12 complaints about Consignment Showplace.

And Michael Bannon of Bucks County Consumer Protection tells me this isn't the first time Walter's dealt with disgruntled consignors. A consignment shop in Montgomery County under his wife's name also closed down.

Meantime, Gina's Closet, a consignment shop in Delaware County owned by Dawn Kane, has also shut down.

Natalie Ritter says she hasn't been able to get back a number of items she left at Gina's to consign, including her daughter's prom dress.

So what is good advice for consignors?

Go to a place that has an established history, check back frequently, and if you get a sense business isn't going well, take your items back immediately.

And read the contract..

"So it needs to be laid out what happens if it doesn't sell," said Bannon. "What happens if the business closes down? That property: where does it go? Who does it belong to?"

Doug Walter didn't return our messages. But I did talk to Dawn Kane, the owner of Gina's Closet.

She said the poor economy forced her to close. But, she added, "all consignors were called and given 3 weeks to pick up their things. If consignors were not called, we deeply apologize. We were never looking to keep anyone's items."

Kane tells me any consignors, including Natalie, should call or email her. And she WILL give them their items and/or any checks that are owed.

If you need Kane's contact info, just call me or go to my Facebook page.