It’s a going-out-of-business sale a Lakewood stay-at-home mom never thought she would have to prepare for.
“I’m angry. They claim they're here to help us and support us, but they're leaving my family with debt,” Andrea Graham said.
The mother of eight, two of whom have special needs, is also a fashion retailer for LuLaRoe. It's a wholesale clothing company that has more than 80,000 retailers across the country that sell out of their homes or on Facebook.
Graham was enticed by the business model’s flexible schedule and the prospect of having her kids help. However, after two years and dwindling sales, Graham quit the business.
The company replied in an email in mid-August, writing: “We understand your reason for canceling your agreement and we support your decision …. EFFECTIVE APRIL 25TH, 2017: INDEPENDENT FASHION RETAILERS, WHO WISH TO CANCEL THEIR RETAILER AGREEMENT, WILL BE REFUNDED 100% OF THE WHOLESALE AMOUNT.”
“Now, we’re being told, 'Too bad. Suck it up' is what they've told us. I’m sick to my stomach,” Graham said.
She is selling her more than $12,000 worth of wholesale merchandise, including 600 pairs of leggings and several hundred other dresses and tops, in a yard sale on Sunday in Lakewood in order to recoup her costs.
Company representatives sent out video messages via Facebook explaining that although the policy changed temporarily, contracts did not and the company is implementing a 90 percent buyback.
Graham says she will not accept that offer.
"They had it in writing that I would get 100 percent of my monies back and they should have to keep their word."
Several other retailers from across the country have taken to social media, demanding refunds. A Change.org petition had more than 11,000 signatures as of Sunday morning.
LuLaRoe devotees, however, defend the company, saying the policy in question has always remained the same.
“It makes me feel indifferent because I know the company. I know what they stand for,” Rebekha Ruet of Spanaway said. “So whatever people are saying that are negative – maybe they don’t know what they’re talking about. “
Ruet says the company has been a lifesaver for her family. She has been able to become the breadwinner and allow her husband, a disabled veteran, to quit a physically demanding job and go back to school to become a teacher.
“He had very little quality of life, very little time with our children, and I just got to a point where I said, 'Enough is enough let me handle it,' and insert LuLaRoe,” Ruet said.
LuLaRoe has rebutted the consultant's claims. Spokespeople say there were some consultants who took advantage of the temporary 100 percent buyback policy and returned merchandise in poor condition.