Several consumers say Saco-based Maine-ly Stoves and Fuel Yard, a company that’s now under criminal investigation, failed to deliver stoves and has not repaid thousands of dollars in deposits.

The consumers tell similar stories. They say they paid deposits for new stoves, but the company, at 660 Main St. in Saco, repeatedly failed to show up on scheduled delivery days.

“I would like to see them brought to justice. I don’t want to see them walk away from all of us unscathed,” said Jennifer Jones of Lyman. Jones said she paid $3,199.70 seven months ago and still hasn’t received a stove.

Cindi Whitehead of Standish said she paid $2,650 in February for a fireplace that never arrived. “I don’t want anyone (else) to go to their shop and get taken,” she said.

Consumers say co-owner Lori Morin, 45, failed to fulfill promises of refunds and attributed delays partly to the health problems of her business partner, John Michael Grover, 59.

Maine-ly Stoves’ bankruptcy attorney, Richard Olson, said Grover had serious medical problems. He said the owners faced eviction and intended to repay customers.

“People get painted badly pretty fast,” Olson said. “I think they have wanted to honor customer deposits as much as they can.”

After receiving complaints, Saco police searched Maine-ly Stoves and the Goosefare Drive home of Grover and Morin on Friday. Police left with business and computer records.

Saco police Sgt. Corey Huntress said a few dozen consumers had reported losing “tens of thousands” of dollars.

“We are trying to piece together what we have,” Huntress said. “Is it bad business or criminal activity?”

Maine-ly Stoves filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Sept. 7.

Olson said the filing was an effort to defer an auction of Maine-ly Stoves’ assets by its landlord, which was owed rent payments. Olson said the owners also hoped to raise capital and start repaying debts.

On Monday, at Maine-ly Stoves’ request, the bankruptcy filing was dismissed. Olson said the company failed to raise more money and that the landlord was planning an auction.

According to city records, the Energy East Foundation owns the property at 660 Main St. Energy East could not be reached for comment, but court papers say Maine-ly Stoves owes Energy East $11,797.

Maine-ly Stoves’ creditors include stove and wood-pellet manufacturers.

Matt Atkinson, co-owner of Berwick, Pa.-based Leisure Line Stove Co., said his business is owed $12,000. Atkinson said Maine-ly Stoves, a former Leisure Line dealer, bounced checks and failed to fully pay bills.

“We (got) some of our money, just enough to keep the stoves coming,” he said.

Leisure Line sent stoves to two customers who didn’t get them from Maine-ly Stoves, Atkinson said.

Veteran stove retailers say many stove companies have opened in the past five years.

Stephen Richard, owner of Gorham-based Frost and Flame, said demand during the fall and winter, when money “rolls right in,” prompts people to jump into the business.

“They don’t understand the cycles and how to (manage) their cash flow,” said Richard, who has owned his business for 26 years. “From March to the first of August, they are struggling.”

And some owners bought items they couldn’t afford. “It’s very easy,” he said. “You get good months and say, ‘Look at the money in the checking account.’“

Other retailers have failed recently, including Finest Hearth Inc., which ran stores in Portland, Yarmouth and Topsham and closed early this year.

“Thirty (percent) to 40 percent of my competition has gone belly up,” Richard said.

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or at:

[email protected]