Vendors preparing to take legal action against north Leawood Vintage Market owner

The former Vintage Market location in the north Leawood shops now has leasing information posted in its windows.

The abrupt departure last month of the Vintage Market in the north Leawood shops at Somerset Drive and Lee Boulevard caught several of the vendors who sold goods there off guard — and has them pursuing legal action against the store’s owner.

Sheila Kost, who had sold merchandise through Vintage Market for more than two years, said she and a group of approximately 10 fellow vendors have engaged a lawyer in an attempt to recoup money they say they are owed by Kim Dye, who owned the store.

Vintage Market operated as a kind of intermediary for nearly two dozen local antique vendors. Each month, vendors were to receive a check for the proceeds for their goods sold at Vintage Market, less a 15 percent sales commission. Dye informed the vendors via email Feb. 14 that the store was closing and they had until Feb. 28 to remove their merchandise from the premises.

Dye then sent the vendors a letter March 8 informing them that they would not be receiving money they were owed because “Neither the Company nor I have other money to pay you with.”

The letter went on to suggest that the Dyes were trying to do right by their vendors: “I could have chosen to close the company or taken it into bankruptcy, but I am trying to take the honorable path,” Dye wrote. “You are not the only creditor. Putting pressure on the company will not help get anyone money. The Company will pay you and the other creditors as soon as I can generate enough money for the Company to pay.”

Kost said some vendors never received their cut of the merchandise sold at the store for parts of January and February. Additionally, she said, the vendors are owed rent money they paid for February, their security deposits, and a penalty fee for failing to be notified of plans to shutter the business 30 days prior to the store’s closure.

“There were a couple of flags [before the email Feb. 14], but nothing huge,” Kost said of her shock at news of the hasty closing. “We had an idea that maybe something was going on, but not to that extent.”

Reached by phone Wednesday, Kim’s husband Tom said decreased sales and the prospect of increased rent at the north Leawood location put them in an untenable situation.

“We were losing money hand over foot,” he said. “We couldn’t keep doing it.”

But a representative of the north Leawood shops’ owner said the center has some of the lowest retail space rent rates in the area, and the owner had no advance notice from the Dyes that they were planning to vacate the space.

Tom Dye said the couple had worked out an arrangement with the leasing agents at Town Center Plaza, where they opened a new store last week after closing their north Leawood and Northland Vintage Market locations, allowing them to get on their feet without immediate lease payments.

“We have expressed to everybody multiple times that we are trying to pay everybody,” Dye said. “It’s a hard situation for us, because this kind of thing just makes it harder for us to get the money to pay people back.”