NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - A high-end consignment store chain is closing its doors and customers who consigned items with them that sold may never see their money.
Judy Simon consigned two designer handbags in February at the Upper West Side location of 2nd Time Around, a national designer resale chain with nine New York City locations. By March, both bags had sold, according to the store's online system, netting her about $230. But months later, she has still seen no sign of the money.
"It's really unacceptable," Simon said. "I call the store at least once a week, or I go in, and then I email and then I call and leave messages with no response."
Simon says 2nd Time Around's corporate office in Boston gave her different excuses, at one point promising to reissue a check. Then they just stopped responding altogether.
"It's actually stealing, that's how I feel," she said. "A lot of people need that money and it's not a good way to do business."
Now, Simon and countless other consignors may never see the checks they were promised.
On Wednesday, 2nd Time Around abruptly announced it's going out of business, saying on its website while they intend to pay all consignors whose items were sold from May 1 onward, "At this time, the company cannot commit to paying consignors whose items were sold prior to May 1."
Fox 5 spoke to nine women who consigned items before May 1 that were shown as sold and never received payment, and Yelp has more than a dozen accounts of people getting ripped off.
Meanwhile, on Thursday the East Houston Street location was padlocked. The 2nd Time Around website told customers to contact the landlord if they want to get their items back.
"It's theft," said consignor Kellie St. Laurent. "You agree to sell something and you sell it and you don't give me the money for it."
St. Laurent sold a number of Marc Jacobs and other designer items through a Madison Avenue location in March. That location has since closed and St. Laurent has spent months trying to chase down the $300 she is owed.
"For me, when I am selling these items, it is to get a little extra money to help, so it's really frustrating," she said.
Consumer protection attorney Zack Liszka said 2nd Time Around may have violated a number of consumer protection laws, and breached contract.
"Not only is this illegal, it's outrageous," said Liszka, who reviewed the store's "Consignment terms and policies."
"Basic contract law says if you make a contract to sell somebody's stuff and sell it and you make a profit off it, you're supposed to give them their share of the profit," he said.
Thursday evening, angry customers showed up at the Lexington Avenue store trying to get answers, but left empty handed.
"They kept telling me the check is in the mail, the check is in the mail, there are no more checks coming in," said Judi Leal, who said she is owed about $300.
2nd Time Around has directed all of their phone lines to an outside customer service company.
New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs told Fox 5 it has mediated complaints about the store before and is now looking into all options to try to get customers' money back. Consumer Affairs urged impacted consignors to contact the department.
The Attorney General's Office also told Fox 5 that consignors can file complaints with the office through this link if they think they have been defrauded.
The Better Business Bureau is also collecting complaints.
2nd Time Around said they will remain open for the time being and information about consignor sales made prior to May 1, "will be forthcoming, pending the conclusion of remaining sales."
Fox 5 made multiple requests to interview a 2nd Time Around executive but received no response.
Here is the complete statement 2nd Time Around emailed to Fox 5:
"2nd Time Around has spent four decades fostering a community of consignors and fashion lovers – making the buying and selling of pre-owned designer clothing a great experience for all involved. Ours is not just a group of shops but more a family of buyers and sellers with a passion for fashion and fun retail experience. Because of a convergence of market forces hitting all brick and mortar stores – including increased competition from on-line retailers combined with skyrocketing rents – we have made the difficult decision to close our stores. We share the disappointment that this announcement brings to our loyal and valued employees, consignors, and customers.
"We will continue to sell items as long as the shop remains in operation, and we remain committed to paying consignors for all sales made on or after May 1, 2017. Further information relative to consignor sales prior to May 1 will be forthcoming, pending the conclusion of remaining sales. As always, consignors are welcome to pick up their goods by providing 24 hours notice."