When a popular sneaker consignment boutique shuttered unexpectedly two weeks ago, management appeared repentant that it still owed two months worth of back-pay to its consignors, independent buyers who filled the store with high-end merchandise to sell.
Repeatedly, the Miami-based Sneak Attack reminded consignors that it had no intention of keeping the thousands of dollars in payments tied up in its books. And after the Miami Herald inquired, working on tips from frustrated consignors wary of a scam, management scrambled to develop a clear time line for payments.
But seemingly upset with the Herald’s coverage of its shortcomings, especially ahead of a planned relocation to Wynwood, Sneak Attack retaliated on Wednesday, calling one consignor who cooperated with the Herald a “snitch bitch” who should “take me to court” and telling him to try recouping his money from the newspaper.
“I actually had your check ready to [go] yesterday,” the Sneak Attack account on Instagram wrote to consignor Quinton Johnson on Wednesday evening, according to screen shots shared with the Herald. “F--- you... [You’re] a f----ing snitch. And now you can take me to court.”
Johnson said that he got flipped an emoji bird from Sneak Attack on Instagram when he asked about his check.
“Get it from the herald,” the store wrote back, according to screen shots, along with the middle-finger emoticon.
Shane Handelsman, a re-seller who told the Herald he was owed nearly $600, received a similar response at almost the same time.
“Call the herald for it!” Sneak Attack wrote, also using the digital middle finger on the 43-year-old Aventura resident. Both men received the messages just after 6 p.m.
The two men, both of whom were contacted by the Herald for the initial article, said they do not know each other and plan to pursue legal action in small-claims court if they are not paid.
“It pretty much shows they have no interest in paying anybody,” Handelsman said.
Patricia Elliot, who describes herself as a “part investor” at Sneak Attack and who spoke to the Herald on behalf of the company, denied that the Sneak Attack account sent the offending direct messages and accused the men of manipulating the conversations with Photoshop. Johnson and Handelsman denied manipulating the images.
Elliot called the whistle-blowers “scum” and “not nice.”
“You’re taking one side. You’re believing a bunch of liars,” Elliot said. “They did not come from the Sneak Attack account.”
In 2016, the sneaker store, which makes money selling limited-edition shoes and clothing of independent buyers who keep 80 percent of the sales price, was named sneaker shop of the year by the Miami New Times. The store has repeatedly delayed paying its consignors since the end of July.
Announcing it would take a hiatus before relocating to Wynwood for the “holidays,” the consignment shop had promised to begin mailing the checks by Sept. 8 after being contacted by the Miami Herald for an article that published Sept. 10.
When reached again on Thursday, Elliot repeated that the checks would be mailed out soon.
After initially accusing a reporter of “falsifying that you work for the Miami Herald,” Elliot criticized the reporter’s judgment in writing about Sneak Attack’s troubles.
“So you think you can walk on water. You think you’re God?” she asked. “Google ‘fake screen shots,’ and then I want an apology.”
Johnson and three other resellers shared their consignment sheets with the Herald to prove their claims were legitimate.
Resellers who do business with Sneak Attack track the status of their merchandise on a color-coded Google sheet managed by the store. If someone bought a reseller’s item, Sneak Attack would typically pay the reseller 80 percent of the sale price, which is often much higher than the retail price.
Johnson’s sales sheet shows that someone paid $350 for a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Homage” shoes in June and that someone else paid $400 for a Supreme T-shirt bearing the likeness of rapper Gucci Mane.
Sneak Attack began operating in Miami in 2013, according to the Florida Division of Corporations. The store has been located at 2519 NE Second Ave. since at least 2016.
The store had recently told resellers to call or email with any questions or concerns, but their listed phone number has been disconnected and emails have largely gone ignored.
Frustrations festered inside an email chain comprised of a few dozen resellers after the store emailed them all at once. Some people contemplated filing a police report or speaking with attorneys, but most said they would wait it out.
Johnson said the contents of the Instagram messages sent to him show that Sneak Attack’s failure to pay was done out of “malice” and not incompetence.
“I got to go file this claim with small claims court,” Johnson said. “That’s pretty much all I can do from here. I want my money at the end of the day.”