Swan song sale hits sour note for some Savannah jewelers

(SAVANNAH) The final sale of a jewelry business going belly-up is underway at F.P. Wortley Jewelers on Abercorn Street in Savannah. Customers became concerned when they showed up at the store early last month only to find the doors locked. About a half-dozen people called WSAV for help, one woman had left her $13,000 wedding ring set for repair. News three contacted several of those former Wortley’s customers today and all report that they have had their items returned through the Trustee appointed by the Bankruptcy Court. But the final sale at the store is causing some concern for other jewelers.

Today Wortley’s doors are open, but the old owners have nothing to do with the business being conducted inside. A consultant who specializes in jewelry store liquidations is in charge. Keith Lewis says he has been briefed about the situation by the Bankruptcy Trustee in charge of this case, James Drake of Savannah, and he’s been assured that those with items left with Wortley have been contacted and their items returned. “: “Everyone that he knows about has been contacted that might have had any repairs or merchandise here, if they have not been contacted you can come to us and we’ll be glad to give ’em the number.” said Lewis.

But this swan song sale is hitting a real sour note with some other jewelers in Savannah. Lowell Kronowitz, owner of Levy Jewelers says he is certain there will be a negative impact. “Absolutely it will hurt other jewelers…there’s a chance that it may even put one or two of ’em out of business. One of these sale items wills satisfy a demand for Mother’s Day or graduation or whatever it is and that money will leave the community. I will never be seen to circulate here in town.” Kronowitz said. But the goal is not to take business from locals according to Lewis, who is based out of Alabama. He says his firm is charged with liquidating everything, not just jewelry. The furnishings and fixtures are priced to move too. “We’re not doing this to hurt anyone and we wouldn’t do that, and uh, but we’re just here to do..uh..to do our job.” said Lewis. Kronowitz points to a clause in the agreement with Lewis’ firm that allows them to add their own merchandise to the inventoried items from Wortley’s during this sale. Lewis says right now, all the merchandise being offered up is Wortley inventory, but as that diminishes, He will add other items to fill out the jewelry cases in the store. “People think they will be purchasing local items and they won’t be.” Kronowitz said.

Bankruptcy court documents reveals the liquidation sale that started April 1, 2016 hopes to raise more than $160,000 dollars to help satisfy debts. “This is actually a real bankruptcy liquidation sale, uh, where it has, uh, uh, we’ve actually come in to liquidate for, ah, basically for the banks.” Lewis said. The liquidation sale is authorized by the Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of Georgia to continue through May 31, 2016, but Lewis expects it to wrap up a lot sooner than that.

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