Baby store goes bust, leaves parents cribless

June 25, 1994|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,Sun Staff Writer

Dozens of area families expecting babies can't get the cribs and changing tables they've paid for because a local retailer has shut down.

Crib n' Cradle closed its two remaining stores 11 days ago after defaulting on a loan and agreeing to turn over its merchandise and other assets to a lender, said lawyers involved in the case.

At least 150 people had paid in full or placed cash deposits for furniture and other large items that they didn't receive, said Dennis C. Weisberg, an attorney representing Crib n' Cradle, known legally as Baby Shop Inc.

Customers may yet get their furniture. The lender wants to sort through Crib n' Cradle's paperwork and eventually supply the ordered goods, lawyers said.

But for some parents-to-be, their expected deliveries may come in the wrong order.

"I'm getting many, many phone calls from pregnant women who are expecting furniture and whose hormones are going through the roof," Mr. Weisberg said.

Store officials said they don't know precisely yet how much money was on deposit or how many people are owed.

The lender taking over Crib n' Cradle's assets is a group of baby equipment manufacturers and other creditors. A spokeswoman said the group can't work any faster to resolve customers' claims and doesn't know when the process will be completed. And it won't be refunding cash, she added.

"We did not receive any of the deposits that were taken by the Baby Shop," said Johanna Winter, a paralegal for Rochester, N.Y., lawyer Stephen Mayka, who is representing the creditors' group. "We can't make refunds of the deposits, because we don't have the money."

At some point, representatives of the lender will contact customers who ordered merchandise, lawyers said. The goods will be made available through Crib n' Cradle's store on Joppa Road in Carney, they said.

The Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General's office said it's investigating.

Crib n' Cradle, owned by Joseph Crigger of Severna Park, sold a wide variety of children's clothes, toys and furniture and had as many as half a dozen stores at one point. But it was hurt by mega-discounters such as Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us, Mr. Weisberg said. Bad weather earlier this year caused a cash crunch, making the company miss payments on its $275,000-plus loan to the creditors' group, lawyers said.

Crib n' Cradle agreed to shut its two remaining stores -- in Carney and Severna Park -- on June 14 and yield assets to the lender.

Had Crib n' Cradle initiated bankruptcy proceedings, its customers with outstanding deposits would have had less of a chance of receiving what they're owed, said Howard A. Rubenstein, another lawyer representing the company.

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