Customers still waiting for belongings 6 months after business c - WSMV News 4

Customers still waiting for belongings 6 months after business closes

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Regency Furs in Green Hills closed earlier this year. (WSMV) Regency Furs in Green Hills closed earlier this year. (WSMV)

Several customers are still waiting to retrieve their items after a business unexpectedly closed six months ago.

The seasons may have changed, but the storefront looks the same.

The property that once housed Regency Furs in Green Hills has sat mostly empty since June.

Its owner, Keith Lane, lost the lease. When he left, so did more than 1,000 fur items he had been tasked to restyle, sell, store or repair.

Hundreds of customers were left wondering how to reclaim their property.

In many cases, customers considered their property to be more than just fur coats. They represented family heirlooms passed between generations.

“I would just like him to do the right thing,” said Patrick Shepard, a former customer.

Shepard said Lane has never returned his messages. He is seeking five items that belonged to his late wife, Joyce.

In 2015, after a long battle with cancer, Joyce passed away. She had inherited the pieces from her own mother in the 1980s.

Shepard said all he wants is to give those same items to Joyce’s stepdaughters.

“It’s just a link to their mother,” Shepard said. “We’ve gone through some of their things, so some of them they want to hang onto.”

Unlike Shepard, many customers did receive their furs.

The Channel 4 I-Team found that Regency Furs had reached an agreement with the store, Gus Mayer, which has a facility to properly store furs.

A manager said they received half of the furs, which they’ve been releasing to customers.

But Mayer did not take items on consignment.

The last time we spoke to Keith Lane in July, he said he was still “finalizing details.”

“I always try to do the right thing,” he told the I-Team in July. He did not say where the coats were being stored or when all the items would be returned.

On Regency Fur’s Facebook page, some customers announced Lane had returned their furs. Others wrote about approaching the District Attorney, out of frustration.

So where has Lane been?

When the I-Team couldn’t find him at home, we left a message on his cell phone.

“We were hoping to ask you why customers are still waiting for their coats to be returned. We just want to know what took so long,” asked reporter Alanna Autler.

But Lane did respond to Facebook messages.

"Ninety-five percent of all coats have been returned, and I am delivering remaining coats each week to individual customers, so it is taking a while," Lane wrote.

Lane also acknowledged in some cases, it has taken too long to return the possessions.

“But I always do what I say,” Lane said.

Lane also sent an e-mail to the I-Team after the story aired.

"I am currently working to try and support my family, I have a wife and three children. This transition has been tough on all of us. Without a storefront, it is not so simple to return coats, I must make arrangements with each customer and deliver them individually. I try to do this in a timely manner, and doing the best I can," Lane wrote.

Lane added that some customers’ belongings were sent to a “fifth-generation master furrier" in North Carolina for restyles and repairs. He wrote in the e-mail that that process accounted for some of the delays.

“Again all customers have been very happy with their coats,” Lane wrote.

The business owner also wrote about the state of the fur industry, which he explained led to the closing.

"Closing my store was never in my plan, it has always been my dream as an entrepreneur, to have my own business. The fur industry as a whole, has seen a decline in the last few years, and fur stores have been closing their doors all over the country. People just aren’t buying furs like they used to. I kept my doors open as long as I could, but there comes a point when it no longer makes financial sense to keep the doors open," Lane wrote in the e-mail.

Ted Shelton received his sister’s coat Thursday – a prized possession that belongs to his sister.

But Shelton said waiting six months for anything is unacceptable.

“I’m a business owner and I can promise you, if I had somebody’s coats, they would get their merchandise back,” Shelton said.

Consignment customers can reach out to Regency Furs through their website or Facebook.

Since then, the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee has issued Regency Furs an “F” rating based on 13 complaints.

Regency Furs and Gus Mayer said they sent letters to customers to notify them about the situation. Most people the I-Team spoke to said they never received them. At least one customer said she filed a report with Metro police.

The store manager of Gus Mayer released this statement:

Gus Mayer acquired about half of the furs that were in storage with Regency Furs.  All furs that were acquired have been properly stored and secure.  Letters were sent to those customers back in September but we also realize many may not have received.  We have made phone calls personally to notify customers, however, many records have not been updated and are not correct.   Gus Mayer has had nothing to do with customers’ own coats that were retained by regency for sale and a few coats that were retained by regency for specialized repairs.  We are more than happy to help in any way possible, as our main goal is to return items to the rightful owner.

Please feel free to contact the store with any questions 615-383-4771.

-Beth Franklin, Store manager

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