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Maritime craft vendors say market organizer held refunds for months

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Maritime craft vendors say market organizer held refunds for months
WATCH: Members of the New Brunswick crafting community are raising concerns and say they waited almost a year to be reimbursed by the person running a market throughout Atlantic Canada, one that was forced to cancel events because of COVID-19 – Mar 24, 2021

Members of the New Brunswick crafting community are raising concerns and say they waited almost a year to be reimbursed by the person running a market throughout Atlantic Canada, one that was forced to cancel events because of COVID-19.

In November of 2019, Nancy Hollett decided to register for a string of pop-up craft shows she’d seen advertised on Facebook as “the Mega Market.”

“There was marketing, there was promotions, they were selling tickets for people to go to the door,” she explained. “It was like a regular market.”

One thing that did stand out to her was that the registration process asked for payment of $55 plus HST before any sort of application process — $126.60 total for her two tables at one show.

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She said usually a jury process is used to ensure there aren’t too many of the same type of vendor at any one show.

“Once you’re selected, that’s when you pay,” she said.

In January 2020, Moncton-based soapmaker Denise Dalziel also registered – but for five shows throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

That set her back $316.25 – which is not a small chunk of change for someone who just left their desk job to pursue their hobby full-time.

“For most, it’s a side business for pocket money,” Dalziel said.

“Mine, personally, is my full-time business.”

Craft soap maker Denise Dalziel sells bath and body products at markets throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Submitted by Denise Dalziel

Dalziel also hadn’t heard of the Mega Markets before but had phone conversations with the man in charge — Brad Steeves — throughout her registration process.

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Despite Dalziel and Hollett not having heard of the markets in their circles, they had been popping up sporadically for a couple of years in Moncton, Truro and Corner Brook, N.L.

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Shows scheduled for 2020 that the two women had registered for would’ve included the first in the Fredericton area – but that’s when COVID-19 hit.

According to an email obtained by Global News sent to all vendors on March 25, 2020, the organization postponed markets in Fredericton, Truro, Yarmouth and Riverview, giving vendors the option to maintain their registration for the yet unscheduled dates or request refunds.

Both Dalziel and Hollett say they requested refunds at that time.

“When that email came out is when I requested that I have a refund for all of them,” Dalziel said.

“And then the ones that I chose to go to at a later date I would re-buy the table.”

She said she didn’t hear back.

An email sent from the Mega Market on August 6, 2020 saw some of the rescheduled dates cancelled, with more pushed back into 2021.

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Vendors were told they could transfer credit from the cancelled shows to rescheduled ones and existing registrations in the rescheduled markets would be honoured when they came to pass.

Hollett and Dalziel say they continued to request refunds with no luck and were joined by dozens of others in their online crafting circles in asking.

Nancy Hollet uses wood and resin to create unique pieces to sell at craft shows. Submitted by Nancy Hollett

Images of a Facebook conversation between Hollett and the Mega Market page appear to show instances on June 5 and August 6 where the page told her refunds were coming within days.

Again, she said, they didn’t.

Dalziel says after months of trying to get her money back she tried to file through small claims court but didn’t have an address for the business.

She did however have a name.

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Brad Steeves, the man with whom she registered in her conversations over the phone had also signed that March 25 email.

Global News began looking into the Mega Market and Steeves, connecting him to several business ventures, mostly in the Halifax area, including 3Run Entertainment and East Coast Dynamics.

When reached by phone Monday, Steeves denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

At the time, he said any vendor who had asked Mega Market for a refund had received one.

He wasn’t able to speak to Dalziel and Hollett’s claims to the contrary but said his records indicated anyone who’d asked for a refund had already received one via eTransfer.

Not long after that conversation, eTransfer refunds for the full amounts paid by Dalziel and Hollett landed in their respective inboxes.

“Last night at 8:15 I got a refund in my email and a message on Facebook,” says Hollett.

“Last time I’d messaged him by Facebook was August 14, 2020.”

Steeves says, despite those setbacks amid the pandemic, he plans to continue the Mega Markets when possible.

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“Probably not this year because of COVID and all the restrictions,” he says, “but I plan on going ahead with them in years to come.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Mega Market website lists an upcoming event at the Hazen Park Centre in Oromocto for April 17 with tickets and vendor slots still on sale.

However, the town’s recreation programmer, Laurie Muise, tells Global News that has been cancelled.

A Showpass event page shows the Mega Market still selling tickets to an April 17 market, despite confirmation that has been cancelled. showpass.com

Attempts to follow up with Steeves by phone and email have gone unanswered.

Dalziel says she just doesn’t want to see people sign up with so much uncertainty.

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