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Just received notification that Sugarloaf has filed chap. 7 bankruptcy. 

Dear Sugarloaf Exhibitors,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Sugarloaf Mountain Works, Inc. is forced to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy. During our 45 years of producing Sugarloaf Craft Festivals, we have been through a lot together: wars, terrorism, recessions, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, health scares, and more. Through it all we all managed to make it work year after year.
We started 2020 anticipating a record year for everyone. Were it not for the global pandemic, our shows would still be going stronger than ever. When the pandemic caused governments everywhere to close all large public events we were devastated as show after show was cancelled.
We did everything we could to avoid this outcome, including negotiating with facilities, rescheduling shows to later dates and pursuing a partnership or full sale to other promoters in an effort to preserve the business. But with no shows open now and no clarity from the governments as to when or how they may open, our options were limited.
For months there have been almost no application fees coming in for fall shows. This is expected to continue for at least several more months. Unfortunately, without cash flow, even a well-managed business simply cannot survive.
We apologize for the disruption this will likely cause all of you and wish it were otherwise. But in the end, we did not cause this problem to happen and we have absolutely no way to fix it in time to save these shows. This is a situation caused by forces far bigger than any of us and we deeply regret that we are unable to continue serving this wonderful community.
You may have a claim to file for fees you have paid. In the coming weeks, you should receive important information from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, including Case Numbers and Trustee contact information. Please note that no one at Sugarloaf can make any managerial decisions at all going forward.
We are devastated to share this news after 45 years of great shows, great friends and great memories.
With warmest regards to all and best wishes for happier days ahead,
the Sugarloaf Crafts Team

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Dear Sugarloaf Exhibitors,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Sugarloaf Mountain Works, Inc. is forced to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy. During our 45 years of producing Sugarloaf Craft Festivals, we have been through a lot together: wars, terrorism, recessions, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, health scares, and more. Through it all we all managed to make it work year after year.
We started 2020 anticipating a record year for everyone. Were it not for the global pandemic, our shows would still be going stronger than ever. When the pandemic caused governments everywhere to close all large public events we were devastated as show after show was cancelled.
We did everything we could to avoid this outcome, including negotiating with facilities, rescheduling shows to later dates and pursuing a partnership or full sale to other promoters in an effort to preserve the business. But with no shows open now and no clarity from the governments as to when or how they may open, our options were limited.
For months there have been almost no application fees coming in for fall shows. This is expected to continue for at least several more months. Unfortunately, without cash flow, even a well-managed business simply cannot survive.
We apologize for the disruption this will likely cause all of you and wish it were otherwise. But in the end, we did not cause this problem to happen and we have absolutely no way to fix it in time to save these shows. This is a situation caused by forces far bigger than any of us and we deeply regret that we are unable to continue serving this wonderful community.
You may have a claim to file for fees you have paid. In the coming weeks, you should receive important information from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, including Case Numbers and Trustee contact information. Please note that no one at Sugarloaf can make any managerial decisions at all going forward.
We are devastated to share this news after 45 years of great shows, great friends and great memories.
With warmest regards to all and best wishes for happier days ahead,
the Sugarloaf Crafts Team

Oh, this is devastating. My husband and I participated in these shows for many years. They were always well run and well-attended with loyal buyers showing up to see our latest work and even following us to other events. George and Deann Verdier were great managers, promoters and worked so hard to create new markets for the craftspeople who participated in their events. In addition, fair and honest promoters who it was a pleasure to know and consider friends. Their daughter Jackie, who grew up in the family business, took over the events in recent years and she ran them superbly and was a pleasure to work with. I wish the entire Sugarloaf staff much happier days to come. 

I disagree, Connie.  The Verdiers made a nice living for many years off of the crafters who set up at their shows.  They could have saved the business by putting some money back into it -- just like many small business owners do when they face challenges like this one.  Instead, they cut and ran and left the crafters holding the bag by declaring bankruptcy.  They took the easy way out and now we will pay for it.  And bankruptcy laws allow them to come back in the future with a new name and a new business doing the same old same old.  If they do, I hope crafters remember the fees that they will eventually lose thanks to the Verdier's decision.  I am out $1900 (filed a claim with Visa but have my doubts about a recovery) and will certainly remember that if they come back under another name.  

I, for one, will make sure that if they come back exhibitors will know. Might even picket the show to let the customers know.  So much for my fantasy,  hope they eat sh#t and die. 

Except they walked off with $2200 of my spring fees.  So I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy. 

R. C., I hadn't realized that artists fees were being lost here. That is not right. As this Spring has played out, its been heartening to hear from show organizers their concern that artists are going to be taken care of and their sense of responsibility to see that that happens. Surely Sugarloaf isn't going to keep the fees paid for events that aren't going to happen. 

I wish that were true, but as they said in their letter, we need to contact the bankruptcy court to file a claim.  Chapter 7 is dissolution of the business and the court will take the assets and decide who gets what.  If they intended to be honorable, they would have returned fees before declaring.  I’ve had similar situations and the best you get if anything are pennies on the dollar. Additionally they use their extensive mail list to solicit funds from their patrons that was going to be donated to the artists in their shows that were canceled. I know they received several thousand dollars yet there’s been no distribution, at least I did not receive any. Another questionable activity. 

R. C., I responded to the Sugarloaf GoFundMe campaign to Save the Artists solicitation and sent some money a few months ago. Today I received a refund from GoFundMe of those $$ from GoFundMe. 

:-) thanks for the info

During the Great Financial Crisis, much was made of what was called “counter party risk”.  Banks stopped doing transactions with other banks because they feared that the other bank could go bankrupt before a transaction completed.  That’s what actually caused the GFC.

We could have an analogous situation in the arts and crafts fair business, where artists become reluctant to trust promoters with their booth fees, worrying that the promoter could go bankrupt before the show happens.  That, of course, could hasten the bankruptcies of promoters who are dependent on the cash flow, as apparently happened with Sugarloaf.

The practice of having to pay booth fees before (and sometimes well before) an event is unusual in the rest of the business world.  Rent is usual due no earlier than the first day of a lease, and often is due in arrears with grace periods of up to 90 days.  Similarly business services are usually billed after the service has been rendered, not before (think home repair, your dentist, your doctor).  Big retailers don’t pay for their inventories until after delivery, and often have 90 days to pay before overdue charges.

If promoters are to survive the new normal of rising counter party risk, they may have to convert to a system of collecting dues at the shows or billing them after the shows, rather than continue this quaint custom of expecting us pay them in advance.

I was able to get all my money back from their canceled shows by calling American Express. Took about 10min. explained the situation and was credited  my lost fees. If you charged your sugarloaf fees on your AE card you may want to call them. Not sure if it matters what particular AE card you have (I have a Hilton Honors AE Card) but mine was covered.

Thank you, David, for that information. Do you think it has to be an AE card? Wouldn't a Visa or MC work also? If not, I'm foreseeing a run on American Express cards.

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