When one Arroyo Grande man brought in his high-dollar art to Timeless Treasures Home Consignments in San Luis Obispo, he expected to strike gold. Instead, the transaction left Milton Davis without a penny or a painting.
Timeless Treasures Home Consignments did business at 4554 Broad Street for nearly three years, but after the shop suddenly closed its doors in May, former employees and customers have come forward saying they never got paid and never got their items back.
The store’s website informs customers the business is closed for good, after its voicemail said it was moving locations.
"When the store did not reopen is when I started to get antsy about it,” Davis said.
He says his Timeless Treasure’s online consignor portal showed he was owed $287.50 for a limited edition Christian Lassen painting he brought in to the store.
The Timeless Treasures contract, which each consignor signed, reads, “The contracted term for all merchandise is 60 days. No item may be retrieved from the store prior to the end of the 60-day period. Unsold merchandise will be marked down 15% after 15 days, 30% after 30 days and 50% after 50 days. At the expiration of the contract, unsold merchandise must be picked up within 15 days, unless alternative arrangements are made. Items not picked up within 15 days of item expiration become the property of TTHC (Timeless Treasures Home Consignments) and may be sold or donated at the sole discretion of TTHC.”
He says his painting sold within the contract's time frame, however, his options for collecting that money are drying up.
The property’s landlord evicted Timeless Treasures owner Andrea Bowengardner in May for owing more than $40,000 in back rent, according to bankruptcy documents.
“There was never enough funds to cash the check.”
Davis is not the only one looking to recoup missing payments.
“Every day if not multiple times a day, there were people asking where [their checks] were, if they had been lost in the mail or asking why their check bounced,” said Anne Walker, a former Timeless Treasures employee.
Walker said she couldn’t answer these questions. She quit, she said, after going nearly three-and-a-half months without pay.
“Something was about a week late and then the next one was a little late too and it built up and built up,” said Walker. “It was about $8,000 not including tax.”
Walker did get paychecks from her boss, Bowengardner, after she quit, but each one bounced. So, Walker took legal action and has a pending complaint with the State of California’s Labor Commission.
If ruled in favor of Walker, Bowengardner might have to pay upwards of $30,000, which includes insufficient funds fees, late fees and interest.
However, these court proceeding are delayed because Bowengardner is filing for bankruptcy.
In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing obtained by KSBY, Bowengardner's debt adds up to nearly $370,000.
Bowengardner names more than 50 companies, agencies and people as creditors. On that list is Anne Walker and the landlord of the building where Timeless Treasures operated.
John Dougherty, a former Timeless Treasures investor, is no longer owed money.
“I acted early on,” said Dougherty. “I felt that if I didn't take the action while the business was still open, I wasn't going to get my money.”
Dougherty says he put roughly $16,000 into the business when it opened.
Two years, two lawsuits and several court dates later he received $10,130 back.
Court documents show Bowengardner filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in February of 2019, but that case was dismissed in May.
Bowengardner claims her attorney for that case was incompetent and asked for a stay of motion to file for Chapter 7.
Crossing County Lines
Dougherty’s case is one of nearly 30 complaints the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has received since it opened a fraud investigation into Timeless Treasures in May.
Eric Doborth, the Assistant District Attorney, confirms the state has charged Bowengardner with two felonies and one misdemeanor count for writing bad checks.
“I think the two primary concerns are folks not getting their stuff or their funds back and the non-sufficient fund's aspect of it, which kind of speaks generally to the circumstances of the business,” said Dobroth.
Allegations of financial and legal misconduct go back nearly two decades and span elsewhere in California.
“Preliminary information shows there is a high likelihood that this occurred in other jurisdictions," said Dobroth.
In 2005, Bowengardner owned a pair of consignment stores called "The Wood Shoppe" in Northern California.
Aaron Parker lives in Sacramento and still remembers doing business with her back then.
"I called and got no answer, so I went down, [The Wood Shoppe} was closed and empty and there was no sign on the door this time, they were just gone,” said Parker.
Parker tracked Bowengardner down and found Timeless Treasures in San Luis Obispo nearly a decade later. But, what he hasn't found is reimbursement for a piece of furniture he says he never got.
“She asked if I had a receipt and said if I did that maybe they could do something, I guess assuming I didn’t since it was so long ago, but I did,” said Parker. “I save things like that so I scanned it and sent it to her immediately and the excuse train took over after that."
Sacramento County court documents obtained by KSBY show at least two parties sued The Wood Shoppe in 2006 and won.
Owner pleads not guilty
In a court hearing Monday, Bowengardner pleaded not guilty to two felonies and one misdemeanor charge.
She is out on $20,000 bail and has another court hearing scheduled for December 4.
In court, her defense counsel Ginger Ortiz says she thought counsel was close to reaching a resolution, but that does not appear to be the case anymore.
KSBY reached out to Bowengardner and her attorney's multiple times and they did not follow up for an interview. Ortiz said she does not comment on on-going cases.
If you did business with Timeless Treasures and would like to make a formal complaint to the DA's office, you are encouraged to call investigator Nick Coughlin at 805-781-5883.
In 2017, Bowengardner and KSBY were involved in litigation over an advertising dispute. The matter is settled.