KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee woman is out $1,000 from the store where she bought a safe that closed abruptly without ever delivering her purchase.

The doors to Spartan Safe in west Knoxville shut down for good just before Thanksgiving and 11 days ago, the company filed for bankruptcy. This chain had stores in several states. The Knoxville Spartan Safe store was on Lovell Road, just beyond the entrance to Turkey Creek. Until a few weeks ago, it was filled with display models and customers received no warning about its closure. Many had paid for their safes in advance and were waiting for their delivery.

“My husband said this was one of the only safe stores he could find. So we went with that one. Then regretted it,” said Kaylee Stidham.

Stidham and her husband went to the store on June 30. They ordered a Centurion 24 F Deluxe safe, it was offered as a 4th of July bargain.

“It was tax-free that weekend as well, they were doing a special, so it ended up being $999 even,” said Stidham.

The invoice from Spartan Safe was printed on June 30 and Stidham paid a $1,000. In small print, it says “the lead, or delivery times, are estimates and due to current nationwide delays in manufacturing, freight delivery is subject to change.” She waited for nearly two months for the delivery.

Then in early September, she called the store.

“They said they were still behind and there were about 80 people in front of us. So, I called at the three-month mark and told them, I didn’t feel comfortable and just wanted a refund. At that time he said we were on the next order. We could pick it up in two weeks,” said Stidham.

But there was nothing to pick up. When she and her husband went to the store, the place was empty. A note on the door stated the obvious: “the store is closed – visit to start your refund.” So Stidham went to the Spartan website to have her money returned.

“It says to request a refund fill out this form. It had me submit my documentation with my invoice and my receipt. I did all that. It said a team member will be in contact with you within 7 days. I filled that out at least five times. It’s been about 3 weeks and I’ve not heard from anyone,” said Stidham.

A complaint to the Better Business Bureau in Tucson, Arizona about the Spartan Safe store there reads, “We paid for a safe June 29, 2022 have not received it … been no communication. Had a sign on door they’re closed & we haven’t heard a thing. We’d like our safe or our money back.”

The Knoxville store sold Liberty Safes. The Utah-based company has made gun safes for over 30 years. Stidham called the company about the safe she ordered.

“I talked to several people at Liberty. She said she could see my name in the system but the funds never got released. So Spartan held my funds and never even ordered the safe through Liberty,” said Stidham.

Liberty Safe issued a two-page statement on November 14.

“Effective immediately, Liberty Safe has discontinued all product shipments to Spartan Safe, due to Spartan Safe’s repeated failure to meet its obligations under the parties’ dealer agreement.”

Statement from Liberty Safe

In early November, Stidham heard from the Knoxville Spartan Safe store manager. Josh Winsett sent her a text message just days before everything was removed from the store. The text reads, “I have a Lincoln 25 with a catchy handle but they are still asking $2600 for it. That goes to Spartan to help pay for the refund.”

On December 8, Chadley Management Inc doing business as Spartan Safe filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The North Carolina-based company requested its assets be liquated.

“We work hard for our money it makes me really upset that someone could just take it so easily,” said Stidham.

The bankruptcy court document WATE obtained, lists assets for Spartan Safe as between one to ten million dollars. The number of unsecured creditors numbered between one to 5,000, they include former customers and businesses who are owed money.