Friday, February 26, 2010

A Cruel (and Expensive) Lesson Learned: Why I will never Consign again!

After having one minor bad experience consigning to an arts and crafts shop out of state, I decided to amend my personal consignment rules to only include local Kansas City area shops.  I thought that this way I would be able to keep an eye on things and make sure that my items were taken care of, displayed well, and that the payment checks were on time.  In hindsight, I realize that it was wishful thinking on my part.

It is an understatement to say that for the past year, I have been busy.  Let's see... I had a baby (life changing!), opened a new Etsy shop for my stamp designs, opened a new ArtFire shop, and added fiber supplies and kits to my line of products.  That is just hitting the highlights too.  It doesn't even include the day to day events of life that can sometimes be overwhelming.  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, it is just to say that my mind has been preoccupied.  I hadn't really thought much about my locally consigned items.  That brings me to my recent horror story of local consignment.

A while ago, I got an Etsy conversations message from a fellow local artisan and friend of mine asking if I knew that a local consignment shop had closed its doors.  My fellow artisan also asked if I had gotten any of my items back or payment for them.  Honestly, I hadn't thought much about this local shop.  I was "friends" with the owner on facebook, and she posted quite often to her page there - never mentioning closing up shop once that I remember, but rather talking a lot about traveling, going to the gym, and losing weight.  Well, she not only closed up shop, but she apparently liquidated all her consignor's items and pocketed all the money from what I can gather.  My fellow artisan and myself have lost hundreds of dollars in merchandise and display items.  Not to mention what her other consignors might have lost.  It is angering and frustrating to say the least.

How convenient that the store owner can not be reached!  My fellow artisan had no luck at all in contacting the store owner.  The store owner responded to one of my emails stating that she'd return my items and the monetary value of the merchandise that wasn't accounted for, but I never heard from her after that one email and never received anything in the mail.  It has been a few weeks now with no response on her part and no merchandise or payment.  It is just shameful too that her store's website is still up with my stolen merchandise and display items pictured for sale on the "gifts" page.  I also believe that she is still may be doing business as a balloon artist in the Kansas City area.  She's even had articles written about her as if she is reputable.  It is all quite disgusting if you are seeing it from my my point of view.

Where does that leave me you might ask?  Plainly spoken, up a creek without a paddle.

I have a signed consignment agreement and merchandise list, but that really does me no good at all if I can not contact the store owner.  And, it really doesn't help if the store owner is dishonest as in this case.  You might wonder why not seek legal action.  There are two main reasons: expense and time.  I have a good case to collect from the fraudulent shop owner, but the court costs and other fees involved would probably be more than the actual cost of my items.  The entire situation seems very unjust to me.  It is not fair that someone who represents themselves as a reputable local business person in reality is nothing more than a thief and criminal.  Ah, but no one said that life was fair...

Now what can I do?  I can learn a valuable lesson and make wiser business decisions in the future.  Therefore, I personally will never consign again.  This is not to discourage others from consigning or to say that all consignment will end badly because I know that there are honest business owners out there.  I recommend doing what works well for you and your arts and crafts business.  It obviously does not work well for me to consign so I will focus my time and resources elsewhere.  I just wanted to share my experience to hopefully benefit others.

7 comments:

  1. Ouch! I've pondered consignment, but haven't gone there. Maybe I'll just skip that idea!

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  2. I have been burned by consignment deals before, and will NEVER do consignment again. If people would like my items in their shops, they need to purchase them wholesale. So sorry that you had such a bad experience. It seems to be that way with consignment.

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  3. Even if litigation isn't an option, you should contact her again and tell her that you are going to file a complaint with the better business bureau. And if she doesn't respond and try to work it out with you, follow through and file the complaint.

    https://odr.bbb.org/odrweb/public/getstarted.aspx

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  4. Do not assume that you have no legal recourse! Small claims court is an afffordable and viable option. Look into it! Even if she doeas not show up in court and you receive a judgement, they can register it and her assets are flagged. You can even have her wages garnished. It may take a little time and a bit of paperwork and a small fee (small claims court is affordable) but the fact that she has broken an agreement and still has your things on-line?! You can't let this go in my opinion.

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  5. Shalana,
    Unfortunately, I have had the same thing happen to me. Even more regretably it happened twice. The 2nd time I had learned my lesson. I took the "crook" to small claims court and got my $642.95 back. It cost me $35.00 to file a claim in Small Claims court. Here in Indiana there is a time limit involved but I think it is 2 years.
    Also if you can get someone to purchase some of your products on line and she doesn't reimburse you it will end up being a legal matter and you can involve the police. I would imagine that would promote a very quick repayment of what she owes you.
    Barbara Russell

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  6. Thanks everyone for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

    Also, I appreciate all the sound advice. I have tried to contact her numerous times at this point. I'm a bit mentally exhausted with it all, but I will look into all of your suggestions. Thanks so much! :)

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  7. I am so sorry that you have had such a terrible experience. I know it can be time consuming to fight it, I would encourage you to do so, if nothing else but to save others from being ripped off by this person also! I honestly would not try to contact her anymore as she doesn't seem responsive. I would file a claim with the BBB and see if you can't also file with the state Attorney General. Usually you can do that online. I would also see if you can't file a police report against her and to be honest I would post who she is on your blog! There is a point where you don't name names, but I think you are well past that and people ought to know who to avoid! I have spent a lot of time trying to get $$ back from Net magazines online after I never got my subscription and I know first hand that it can be so frustrating, but at the same time I figure if I can keep one other person from being ripped off it's worth it! Good Luck!
    Monica

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