Fort Myers antique mall closes after filing for bankruptcy, some vendors still unpaid
Trapped behind the doors of a Fort Myers antique mall is years of history and thousands of dollars in valuable merchandise.
The vendors who sell at the Wildwood Antique Mall are locked out. The mall suddenly shut down.
Some vendors haven’t even been fully paid for items that were sold.
Growing up in a Colonial-era home, Sally Fulton developed an eye for antiques.
“I’ve probably been flipping antiques since I was three,” she said.
So when she saw the chance to turn her lifelong hobby into a money-making side gig, she jumped. She set up shop in the Wildwood Antique Mall in early 2018.
“I was one of the first three vendors here,” she said. “We were so excited. My partners and I talked about all the stuff we had, where we were gonna put it.”
But the look on her face now carries pain.
“It started with not getting paid and getting lied to about when we were going to get paid and how everything was going to be fine,” said Fulton.
She and her business partner, Daryl Cummings, say they noticed signs of Wildwood Antique Mall’s financial problems in February when they weren’t receiving their commission.
“Your gut tells you, you shoulda left months ago, but there was a constant, ‘Oh, hang in there. Things are going to be better,'” said Cummings.
But things only got worse.
Court documents show Wildwood Antique Mall filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. A judge changed that to chapter 7 and ordered the liquidation of assets to pay off its debt.
Inside those court documents, we also found the last two months of income and expense reports, which show while the owner took his 10% cut from dealer sales, he only paid 45% of the dealers’ 90% commission.
So we went to his house to see what he had to say.
“Why are vendors saying they haven’t been paid since as far back as February,” asked owner manny Pesco. “Boy, your information is not correct, so, we have paid some.”
The keyword there: SOME.
But hope is quickly dwindling for dealers like Fulton.
“I just hope that we see Mr. Pesco pay for what he’s done to hundreds of innocent people,” she said, who fear they may never get paid in full.
As for the future of the antique mall, Pesco says people are interested in buying it so that vendors can get back to the business of buying and selling.