GREENSBORO, NC -- Open to closed - practically over night. That's what happened to one Triad children's consignment store. The owner told sellers she filed for bankruptcy. But that doesn't help parents who say they still had stuff inside. And in some cases, parents say she still owed them money for items she'd already sold! So they've called our Call for Action team to see if there's anything they can do to get their stuff or money back.
Elizabeth Paashaus says she really liked to buy shoes at Bubble's Kids consignment store. "They're expensive, and my girls outgrow them so fast."
"Fast and easy" is how Elizabeth used to describe shopping and selling at the consignment shop on Battleground in Greensboro. "I could just take my stuff out there, she could sell it, my money was there when I needed it."
That's the way it worked until the week of January 12. Bubble's Kids Facebook page has been taken down, but in an archived version of the page, you can see the store posted a "going out business" notice. A closer look shows sellers had "through Saturday, January 18 to pickup their items". And "checks would be mailed out the following week." Elizabeth says, "Before Saturday I friend of mine on Facebook contacted me saying she shut down early, the shop was so full of stuff, and nobody could get in contact with her."
The "her" is store owner Deanna Davis. Elizabeth contacted Davis on her personal Facebook page, where the owner responded with this message she sent from her phone. "We had to close early because of the way people are acting and I'm filing for bankruptcy and you'll receive a letter." Elizabeth says, "She blocked me, and I couldn't contact her again."
Elizabeth is one of many who have contacted us, saying they're waiting for an answer - and money. "Seems like an escape. An easy way out where she could've sent a sincere apology to the customers, offered what she could even if it was a small percentage of what she owed them. I think people would've been much more receptive to that."
We haven't found a bankruptcy filing for Bubble's Kids.And owner Deanna Davis promised to email us a statement, but we haven't received anything from her.
It's not just a consignment store that could close with your cash. You may have paid a year long membership at a gym or you may have a gift card. David Dalrymple with the Better Business Bureau has worked cases with all of the above. We can't know what the future holds for a company - but we can look at the history.
David says, "You want to look at the history and longevity of the business first. How many years have they been in business? How long have they had the same owners? Of course there are no absolutes. Bubble's Kids had been in business for at least four years. We've seen gyms close that have been in business for years."
Would some of these types of businesses hold our money in escrow and could we get at the money somehow? David says, "It all depends on the contract. I know some people like to keep the money at the consignment store as a credit so it's there if they want to buy something. Or hold on to their gift certificates. But play it safe and request your money each month. Or use the gift certificate quickly."
What can we do if a business files for bankruptcy and would it help for customers to band together in some way? David says, "You can file as creditors. It would be helpful if you had a few people who wanted to stay on top of the case to make sure you don't miss filing dates and court dates, that would be helpful."
Can we lump our outstanding balances together with other people and have a better change of collecting? And really what are our chances? David says, "Not really and honestly, the chances of recovery are pretty slim. There are alot of other debts that get paid first including rent, wages, taxes and administrative costs."
When it comes to having a gift card from a closed business, there is the possibility the state treasurer's office can help you out. Take a look in the 2 Wants to Know section for the steps you can take to get part of your gift certificate money back.