LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The unexpected closure of a Lakeland antique mall has left hundreds of vendors scrambling, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory held hostage.
Wildwood Antique Mall’s closing came with very little notice. Vendors received an email on Wednesday night. Thursday, signs were posted on the front doors announcing Wildwood was temporarily closed.
Federal court filings show Wildwood filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. A judge converted the case to Chapter 7, which would require liquidation to repay debts, on Wednesday, November 13th.
On Thursday, some of the 200+ vendors who sold their goods at Wildwood could be seen driving past the dark doors, just to check and see if there was any chance of getting inside to retrieve their merchandise.
Wildwood Antique Malls LLC had a number of locations across Florida but Lakeland’s was its largest.
Multiple vendors who did not want to be identified by name told 8 On Your Side Wildwood’s financial problems trace back to the beginning of this year. They claimed Wildwood still owes vendors thousands of dollars in unpaid commission. Checks due in February weren’t issued until May, they said. Checks owed to vendors in March and April still have never been received.
The vendors would not identify themselves out of fear of retribution that could interfere with getting their money due and inventory back.
An attorney representing Wildwood refused to comment.