PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sharon and Don Weber make quilts and woodcrafts by hand. They took their items to craft shows and did “fairly well at them. And that was our, basically, our income.”
They looked forward to attending this year’s, “America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar” at the Expo Center, which had been a holiday tradition since 1982. The Webers had been one of the vendors at last year’s event and in April — as the pandemic was ramping up — they wrote a registration check for $810 for this year’s event.
But it didn’t happen, even though the event is still listed on the event’s website.
Even before the event, though, as the pandemic continued, the Webers tried to reach the organizers.
“Their phone number didn’t work, their fax number didn’t work,” Sharon Weber told KOIN 6 News. “And so then we got even more nervous and went online.”
On the Expo Center’s website was a statement about the Christmas Bazaar’s parent company: “We have received notification that Christine Palmer & Associates is no longer in business. For vendors of America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar and America’s Largest Antique Shows wishing to inquire about refunds, please contact Scott O. Pratt, Attorney at Law.”
The Webers called attorney Pratt, “and I told him our problem,” Sharon said. “And he said, ‘They have no money, no assets. You’ll get nothing.”
The Webers then contacted KOIN 6 News and when KOIN 6 News called Pratt he said, “The company is out of business. For some reason the Expo Center put my name up there as a contact.”
He said he represented the parent company for several years but has no role now. Pratt took our number and said he might pass it on to the owner.
KOIN 6 News then called company owner Chuck Palmer, who said he was retired and he had 2 employees who “ran it into the ground and, whoops, that’s it.”
We also read Palmer the Expo Center’s statement about contacting attorney Pratt for refunds. When told “Pratt said he is not your attorney anymore and hasn’t been for a long time,” Palmer called me a liar and hung up the phone.
It’s unclear how many vendors are out of money.
In the Expo Center’s statement, a spokesperson told KOIN 6 News, “Before Expo received an official event cancellation notice, an influx of exhibitor inquires (estimated between 50 and 75) were received by the sales and events team.”
According to the Oregon Secretary of State, the parent company of the Christmas Bazaar let their LLC dissolve in February — two months before the Webers paid their $810 registration fee.
When Sharon Weber learned that, she said, “Really? And they still took our money? Unbelievable. That now, that makes me angry.”
As far as refunds through the Expo Center, the spokesperson said it is only the “rental facility for event producers. As such, we do not contract with the exhibitor at each of our shows.”
Translation: They don’t have refunds to give.