MORE than four months after he admitted packing up and leaving in the middle of the night, the owner of the now closed Treasure Island in Thornbury still has some debts to settle with customers.
The second-hand shop on The Plain shut out of the blue on September 13 last year after Mark Baker said he was forced to close due to the economic downturn.
His decision to take off with the thousands of items dropped off by customers and stored at the shop waiting to be sold did not go down very well with his angry clientele, many of whom phoned the Gazette asking for help to recover their belongings.
After a couple of weeks Mr Baker resurfaced and opened up to the Gazette in an interview explaining that dealing with the failure of his business had been extremely difficult, adding that he had not considered the consequences of his actions as he left town with all the shop’s contents.
He pledged to return the objects deposited at the Treasure Island by locals or to try to sell them, if customers still wished him to do so.
He also promised not to screen customers’ calls, although he refused to reveal where their items were being stored.
But he failed to stick to his word according to Nigel Johnson, from Thornbury, whose two security gates, digital camera and video players, worth a combined £445, have not yet been returned to him.
Mr Johnson, 48, told the Gazette he had now reached the end of his tether with Mr Baker.
"He phoned at the beginning of December and he said he had a buyer," he said. "I never heard from him again. When I tried to start to phone him back it went to answering machine. And now there’s no reply. The phone goes dead."
He contacted both the police and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for consumer advice, but all in vain.
"The consumer advice said find out his businesses address but he’s got no business address," he added.
"All I want is my goods back. They said ‘You gave him the goods’ but I didn’t give him the goods, he’s got a shop and takes 20 per cent."
Another customer John Bax, from Thornbury, is still waiting to hear what has happened to the Sturgeon painting, worth £50, he left at Treasure Island. "I spoke to the owner back in November," he said. "He assured me he was not a baddy and would sell my picture in a car boot sale."
He phoned Mr Baker the following month for an update and again on January 29, but went straight to voicemail. "It's more the principle than the loss," he added.
A police spokesman said that as customers had handed the goods to Mr Baker, the case was a civil matter, not a criminal one which meant officers could not get involved.
An OFT spokesman said the body could not discuss individual cases. Anyone can make a complaint about a trader on the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk Mr Baker was not available for comment.