I recently moved to Litchfield Park Arizona. The area in which I bought a home was expanding rapidly. Strip centers going up on every corner. I realized that there were few dollar stores in the area. I began doing some research on dollar stores as a business. There is plenty of info about how dollar stores are recession proof, and how their customer base isn't only the lower class, but also the middle and upper middle classes. Everyone likes a bargain. Several USA Today articles featured Dan Margles (ASI Vice President.)
I contacted Allied Systems Industries (ASI) located in Las Vegas. Over the course of several months I spoke with Jason Corkern (Marketing Manager) almost weekly. We discussed the fact that my area was booming, my desires to own a business in my neighborhood. Being in retail for almost 20 years I know how important it is to be close to your business, and be able to drop in when not expected, to check on employees. Jason was very helpful with information, ideas, etc. I met with Jason and Patrick Felton (Marketing Director) during a business trip to Las Vegas.
As soon as I saved up the required $15k deposit, I signed the purchase agreement and arranged for the transfer of funds to ASI (April 15th, 20004.) I was ready to get my dollar store rolling. I already had several possible retail sites I wanted ASI to check out for me. I provided a map of the area of the city where I live, pin pointing my residence and the surrounding shopping centers, along with current tenants, available spaces, and leasing packages.
I was told that John George would be handling the real estate end of the process. I made several attempts to reach Mr. George but he was not in the office. 7 days after the contract and transferring my funds (April 22nd, 2004) I finally get to speak with John George. Immediately John wanted to know how much more money I was prepared to put down (Jason had previously indicated that I wouldn't need any other funds beyond the $15k. I have this documented in an e-mail from Jason.)
John also wanted me to sign another purchase agreement for $150k, I had already signed one for $65k which is the cost of the 1200 sq ft package. John was sure that I should have 3000 sq ft store. At this time I asked John if he had reviewed the package of prospective locations I had provided. He said that he was backed up from being out and that he would look at it and get back with me the following day. I heard nothing from Mr. George the following day. On April 28th, 2004 I received a call from a local real estate agent who said that John George had asked him to help me find a location. 2 days later I received an e-mail with several possible sites. These sites were more than 25 miles from my home, nowhere near the growing area that I wanted to be in. I checked them out and requested more details on a couple of the properties.
On May 24th I received a call from John George asking if the real estate agent was doing anything. At this point I had heard nothing from ASI for almost a month.
On May 26th I sent ASI notice that they needed to find a property for my future dollar store or refund $12k of my initial deposit as stated in the Real Estate Addendum to the contract. Which basically says that if a suitable site cannot be found that ASI will refund $12k of the $15k deposit, retaining $3k for any work they might have done to that point.
Follow up to my letter of notice assured me that ASI would address the issues and get on the ball. In subsequent weeks several local real estate agents sent me listings of properties to look at. One was as far as 44 miles away, some were in deplorable areas of town, some even already had dollar stores in them. It was like they weren't even trying, it was like they were deliberately trying to discourage me. They never referred me to a property in the city I live in.
On July 30th, 2004 I sent Jason an e-mail expressing my discontent with ASI and their efforts to assist me. I wrote that I'd prefer to end the process, let them have the $3k for their troubles, and call it no harm no foul. Over one month went by without hearing back from ASI.
I had an attorney send a letter to Manfred Spindel (ASI President) ending the contract and requesting the $12k back. They had their attorney respond indicating that I was being unreasonable by not accepting any of the sites they selected for me. The attorney even went as far to say that my logic was misplaced, and that distance was no limiting factor. He went on to say that I was not entitled to my money. Oddly enough, I signed a contract with Allied Systems Industries, the letter I received was not from Allied, but from Wholesale Systems Inc.
After doing more research, research that I wish I had done prior to forking over my money, I find that they have had complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau regarding contract disputes, and advertising disputes. I've also discovered that Manfred Spindel and Dan Margles operate under several different business names.
They seem very nice and accommodating right up until they get your money, but WATCH OUT!
Litchfield Park, Arizona
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