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Parkville Consignment Shop Closes, Leaves Sellers High and Dry

The business closed last spring and at least one customer said that she hasn't been able to reach the owner to get her items back.

It happens all too often: a business closes suddenly without much explanation.

But what happens when the shop in question is selling items left there on consignment?

When Parkville's Childish Things closed earlier this year, at least two people who had items for sale there said they are now unable to get their property back.

Shaina Zobel, a Parkville resident and mother of two, said that back in December 2011, she was looking to sell some of the items her children had outgrown. She found the shop, formerly located at 3224B E. Joppa Road, while driving by.

"I knew it was a consignment shop and I heard they would just buy things from people outright," Zobel said. "I sold children’s clothes ... and got paid right then and there and I also left some things to be consigned."

Zobel said that, in accordance with the store policy, she called a month later to learn whether or not anything had sold—some items had moved and she received a check in the mail.

Another two months went by without anything selling. Zobel then said she noticed a post to a Facebook page that the owner was closing up shop and moving to a bigger and better location.

"I was excited as a seller ... that sounded good," Zobel said. "And then we didn’t hear much, not much activity on her page from her. People were writing in and asking about it. A post said email me if you’re expecting payment and I’ll send the checks to you. That was the last post from her I'd seen." 

And then, Zobel said the Facebook page disappeared.

"Calls and voicemails left at the store and e-mails were not answered," Zobel said.

Not knowing the business owner's name, and with no contact from the store, she was left without a way to recover the $100 to $200 worth of items she said she left there.

"It was like larger baby gear and children's things," Zobel said. "It's frustrating. Some of those things that I was hoping to sell. I was thinking, 'if this doesn’t sell, I'll give it to friends who are pregnant or who have had babies recently'."

While the Facebook page for Childish Things has been deleted since the store closed, a website for the shop still exists. The phone number listed on the website has been disconnected, but a search of domain name registries shows the site is registered to Crystal Martinez.

Attempts to reach Martinez have gone unanswered.

Jody Thomas, the vice-president for communications for the Greater Maryland Better Business Bureau, said that two people have filed complaints against Childish Things, which holds a D rating from the organization.

"We’ve got a couple of closed complaints against the business at the Better Business Bureau … it looks like at least one of them was filed for the same reason [as Zobel's complaint]," Thomas said.

Those complaints, she said, were lodged in June and July of 2012 and closed in August and September, respectively, after attempts to communicate with the business failed.

Thomas said that complaints against consignment shops are not common for the Better Business Bureau—over the last year she said that 6 complaints were raised against consignment shops as compared to 517 complaints against general retailers.

She noted, however, that such complaints are absolutely legitimate.

"If a business goes out of business and they’ve got an item you were getting fixed, or items you had on consignment, that is a legitimate complaint ... you should go to the Maryland attorney general’s office," she said.

Maryland Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection spokesman David Paulsen said that there were no active complaints against Childish Things filed with the office.

"Advise folks to file a complaint with us. They are certainly welcome to do that," Paulsen said. "Our folks go to work trying to locate the owners and work out a satisfactory solution for the consumer."

Paulsen said complaints can be filed on the Attorney General's website: www.oag.state.md.us or by calling 410-528-8662.

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