KUSA - A Denver consignment shop stocked with designer labels has closed up shop, and customers say they never got paid for their name brands.
The Snob Shoppe on South Gaylord Street is now an empty store front with a note in the window dated Jan. 6. That note says the shop closed "due to unforeseen circumstances," and indicates consigners had just four days to pick up belongings before they would be donated to Zion Baptist Church.
A pastor at the church says the Snob Shoppe did make a large donation and that most items have likely been given to needy families.
"It could have very well been close to $2,000 worth of clothing that I consigned there," Kelli Strother said. "I took a pair of Prada pumps [and] a Max Mara dress."
Strother said she was friends with the owner, Karen Belke, which made seeing the note in the window even more difficult.
"My feelings were hurt actually. I just felt like I trusted this woman," Strother said.
Strother said there were signs of trouble in the months before the closing. After the Snob Shoppe moved from its location on Holly Street to Gaylord, Strother said she was one of Belke's first consigners. But even after her items sold, Strother said Belke kept giving excuses for not cutting her a check.
"She always had a computer issue or she didn't like to cut checks on the weekend," Strother said.
Another customer who said she got paid or got her item returned said, when she did some research on the Snob Shoppe, she found a 9NEWS story from 2010. That's when a consignment store called the Snob Shop also abruptly closed.
"When I checked into it, I found out this had happened before," said Barbara, who opted not to give her last name.
At that time, the Snob Shoppe was run by a woman named Joann MacDougall, who said she had to close because she was behind on her rent. She said she worked to return merchandise to her customers and make things right.
MacDougall said Saturday that Karen Belke was a friend of hers, but not anymore. She says she has no involvement in what's happening now and Belke was running the new Snob Shoppe on her own.
When 9News called Belke's personal cell phone, a woman who said she was a friend answered. She said Belke had money stolen from her so there was no money left to pay consigners.
The Snob Shoppe has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB offers these tips for consigners.
• Find a trustworthy store. Start your search for a reliable consignment partner by checking BBB Business Reviews at denver.bbb.org.
• Contact the store. After you've found some consignment stores that appear to be reliable, comparison-shop by contacting the stores and asking a few basic questions, such as, what are their terms for selling via consignment and what types of items they specialize in selling.
• Visit the store. Observe its physical appearance and talk to the staff. If the store is dependent on walk-in traffic, is it in a convenient location? What sort of advertising does it do? Is the staff market savvy? What do they consider to be a reasonable price for your item? Be aware that some stores will not accept items that are not in season or those they expect to sell for less than a specific amount.
• Get a detailed, written contract. Once you have selected a consignment business, get a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out how the proceeds from a sale will be divided - i.e., will you be paid a flat fee or a percentage (generally from 30-60%)? It should also specify how long your item will remain "on the shelf"; and detail how and when the business will pay you your share of any sale.
• Keep records. The business should willingly provide a bill of sale or other record after the sale. If your item doesn't sell, know what you need to do and by what date in order to regain possession of your goods.
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