Lutherville consignment boutique Karma reopens after partner dispute

Lutherville consignment boutique Karma reopened at noon Wednesday after one of its co-owners emptied the shop in November in the midst of a partner dispute.

Owner Teresa Blatchley temporarily closed the store after her business partner, Yolanda Maria Martinez, entered the store at 1508 Riderwood Drive on the night of Nov. 18 and, with her husband and a handful of others, took all the items inside.

Martinez called the step legal and necessary because of a legal dispute between the partners. Blatchley called the incident a theft and pressed charges. A judge in a civil lawsuit between the two partners ordered Martinez to return the inventory and allowed Blatchley to run the store, according to Blatchley’s lawyer, Andrew Battista.

“The vast majority [of items have] been returned,” Battista said, adding that some of the store’s fixtures were damaged or had problems; for example, one shelving unit was returned without any screws holding it together, he said.

But the store, Battista said, looks almost back to normal.

“If you went in there this afternoon I don’t think you’d say, ‘Gee whiz, this place was empty a week ago,’” Battista said.

The two partners reached a settlement Dec. 7, Battista said. Though he was unable to disclose the terms of the confidential settlement, Battista said Blatchley will continue to run the store and Martinez will no longer be involved in the business.

While allowing Blatchley to run the store, the judge also mandated that Martinez have access to information about the business, which she continues to co-own, Battista said.

In a statement emailed through a spokeswoman, Martinez said she was “pleased” about Karma’s reopening.

“The necessary step that, under the advice of legal counsel, had to be taken recently has translated into a much higher degree of court-ordered managerial oversight and accountability — I was pleased with the outcome,” Martinez wrote. “It is my sincere hope the recent conflict results in an even better customer experience that best serves Karma’s consignors, extended customer base, vendors and the greater community.”

Karma’s Facebook account, which Blatchley runs, posted photos of goods throughout the store in the first minutes of its reopening. One photo showed a stationery set printed with the words: “I hope Karma slaps you in the face before I do.”

“Enough said,” the account wrote.

This story has been updated.

asolomon@baltsun.com

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