Maine Cottage Furniture owes a lot of people a lot of money.

When the Yarmouth-based company abruptly closed in February after more than 20 years in business, it left customers without the furniture they paid for, broke leases at retail stores in three states and hadn’t paid bills for services and products provided by several vendors — including a Massachusetts-based moving company, a paint manufacturer in Vermont and a Portland mattress store.

Clark & Reid, the fine furniture mover, has filed a lawsuit claiming Maine Cottage owes the company nearly $200,000 in unpaid bills.

Jonathan Satter, who owns the building that housed Maine Cottage’s Florida store, is awaiting a court judgment on his claim for more than $1 million to cover the high-end furniture company’s lease through 2017.

By most accounts, there’s no money to recoup.

KeyBank, which had a lien on the company’s assets, sold them last month to Marden’s Salvage and Supply. Marden’s, in turn, sold the pieces at steep discounts at its Lewiston and Scarborough stores.

KeyBank also sold Maine Cottage’s intellectual property, including the brand name and its signature furniture designs, to Russell & Mackenna, a Maryland furniture company, which plans to relaunch Maine Cottage as an online store in July.

According to KeyBank’s attorney, it’s a fact of life — particularly in the current economic climate — for companies to go out of business and leave debts that are never paid.

“Businesses that close often close leaving behind creditors who are owed money,” said Jacob Manheimer of Pierce Atwood. “It happens every day.”

Russell & Mackenna has been trying to accommodate the customers who lost money.

“We are concerned about the customer base, the perception of the brand, and we want to do what we can to preserve that,” said Larry Strassner, the company’s president.

Strassner said his customer service representatives have been responding to the calls and emails they’ve received from nearly 70 former Maine Cottage customers hoping to get the furniture they ordered and paid for but never received.

He said many people who paid with credit cards are pursuing refunds from the credit card companies and placing new orders.

For those who paid by check and cannot recoup the money, the company is offering “as much of a discount as we can provide depending on what was in the order,” Strassner said.

At this point, Cynthia Francis of Tolland, Conn., said she never expects to see the $1,430 she paid in November for an ottoman that apparently was never made.

She paid with a debit card, and her bank refused to reimburse her. Francis said she left a message with Russell & Mackenna a couple of weeks ago but hasn’t heard back.

“That’s just lost money as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Brian Haddock, who owns Portland-based Furniturea, which made Maine Cottage’s wood furniture, said the company owes him $60,000 for his work.

His only hope for making up the loss is by picking up some of the orders that would have gone to Maine Cottage.

“There is no money to get back,” he said.

George Samaras, owner of Portland Mattress Makers, wouldn’t disclose the amount of money he’s owed by Maine Cottage, which sold his mattresses along with its beds, but said it was “definitely significant.”

Though Samaras is disappointed, he said, he feels badly for those involved with Maine Cottage, too.

“I’m not angry. It’s part of business,” he said. “They were a great company to work with.”

Since signs announcing a temporary closure were posted on Maine Cottage’s retail stores in Yarmouth, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., people associated with the company have kept mum.

According to Yarmouth assessing records, former Maine Cottage owner Peter Bass owns a home on Bluff Road in Yarmouth. A woman who answered the door there last week said she purchased the home from Bass in March and heard he had moved out of state.

Clark & Reid’s attorney, Peter Haley of Nelson Mullins, said no one from Maine Cottage has responded to the lawsuit the moving company filed in early March.

Maine Cottage’s longtime attorney, Timothy Norton, declined to comment for this story.

The court has allowed Clark & Reid to hold on to the furniture it was going to deliver.

Among the pieces are an upholstered hassock and a wicker basket that Cynthia Francis ordered. She said she doesn’t expect Clark & Reid to go out of its way to get the items to her.

“They got burned like everybody else,” she said.

Satter, the Florida landlord, said he held on to the furniture that was in the West Palm Beach showroom, until he received a court order forcing him to release it. He said Marden’s picked up the furniture last week.

Maine Cottage hadn’t paid its $20,000-a-month rent for two months when Satter said he got a call from the company’s management team at the end of February, saying the company’s financing had fallen through and all employees were being let go.

He said he plans to find out whether Maine Cottage has remaining assets or personal liability, but recognizes that his efforts might be futile.

“I don’t know that there’s any money to get,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]A Maryland-based furniture company plans to relaunch Maine Cottage as an online store in July.