Multiple customers of a local consignment shop are frustrated, angry and dismayed that their items will be auctioned off Thursday, Feb. 11 by a storage company.
“They don’t care that the merchandise is stolen,” said one of the victims, Noreen Boeckel.
The owner of the unit Johnny “JT” Lee Thompson abandoned it and according to his former employee, has since moved back to West Virginia.
Six months ago SFGN published an exposé detailing a laundry list of complaints against Thompson from his consignors. They accused him of not paying them for items he’s sold, writing bad checks, and of shoddy record-keeping. Since the article was published more victims have contacted SFGN to share their stories.
Boeckel said Thompson owes her thousands for the merchandise she consigned with him, which included several expensive fur coats. Bill Gordon said Thompson owes him at least $1,700.
Now these folks are dismayed that they’ll never get their items back. Many have filed police reports but were told it’s a civil matter. A few of them believe some of those allegedly stolen goods are in the storage unit at Lighthouse Storage in Oakland Park, 1121 E Commercial Blvd.
According to one of the victims Thompson rented two units — one of which was already auctioned off in December.
The auctioneer for the upcoming event Jerry Mahaffey of SeeYouAtTheAuction.com declined to comment and referred all questions to Lighthouse. According to the auctioneer's website, the auction is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 at Lighthouse.
“This is a bad situation for everyone involved, not only did he take advantage of the people in your story, but also us, by not paying his rent for space he has been renting all this time,” James Wofford, a district manager who oversees Lighthouse, wrote to SFGN in an email.
Because Thompson abandoned the storage units, Lighthouse will hold a public auction to sell off the goods.
Victoria, who declined to give her last name, worked for Thompson for a year. She referred to some of the customers as being “off the rails” who attempted to use Thompson’s store, the now-closed Peculiar Pelican, as a storage facility.
“The people were not being honest either. Some of those people were disingenuous,” she said of some of the previous accusers SFGN interviewed. But Victoria also admitted she had no idea what was said or done when she wasn’t around.
She called Thompson’s business practices “too casual,” “sloppy,” and said “he should have been more professional.”
She also added: “All of this could have been avoided if he stayed in contact with the consignors. He would block calls and avoid people. He ignored them. This is what caused so much animosity. I’ve been blocked by him by some time now.”
Victoria, who is almost 70 years old, was only at the store because she loved working. In fact, she’s a victim as well — Thompson owes her thousands of dollars in back pay.
Despite that she defended him — to a degree.
“[Working there] gave me a purpose. I was more loyal to the business than to him,” she said. “It’s a sad thing what he’s done to people. Some people had legitimate grievances.”
As for her back pay: “I felt he should take care of his consignors first, which I assumed he had been doing. After everything had fallen apart, and the store had closed, I started hearing things about what happened and that people were angry.”
She said Thompson and the consignors too often relied on verbal agreements instead of getting the details in writing.
As for the bad checks, she said she recalls Thompson telling customers to wait before cashing the checks. But oftentimes they didn’t listen, and the checks would bounce.
Donna Nunes is one of those consignors, who SFGN previously interviewed, who received a check and was told to wait. She did. Eventually, since Thompson never gave her permission to cash the check, she took it to her bank, where she was informed there were insufficient funds to cover the $407.
When SFGN interviewed Thompson last year he defended himself blaming much of his woes on the pandemic. But the check to Nunes was dated Sept. 30, 2019 — six months before Broward County would shut down businesses because of the crisis.
As for the contracts Gordon tells a different story.
“I had contact with him every couple of weeks. I offered to take anything back he couldn’t sell,” he said. “He said to me ‘you don’t need a contract. You don’t have to worry, I’ll take your stuff. As long as you keep stopping in and showing interest.’”
When Gordon first started consigning his goods with Thompson he did get paid $400.
“He never itemized anything,” he said. “I have no idea what that check represented.”
He never received another check — just excuses after that. He said Thompson gave him a “song and dance” about his bank account being hacked and his funds were “frozen.”
Gordon, like the other victims, doesn't feel there is anything that can be done at this point.
“We are all just so pissed off,” Gordon said.