Waterloo regional police say they are now investigating 22 reports of theft in connection to the cancellation of a Kitchener, Ont. Christmas market.
The third annual It’s a Christmas Market was scheduled for Nov. 12 at Bingemans, but on Oct. 26, vendors found out that the organizer, Stacy Cliff, had lost their deposits.
Cliff later confirmed to CTV News she lost the money through gambling.
Vendors paid around $100 to $200 each to secure spaces at the event, but many said they were out hundreds more in stock that they’ve been preparing for months.
The market scheduled for Nov. 12 has since been revived and rebranded as “A Holiday Market”.
Vendor Sonya Serrick of Tocara Jewlery said she filed a police report after paying Cliff $150 for the It’s A Christmas Market.
“For me, I know I’m not going to get the money back and now that they’re having the event, it’s not about that,” Serrick said.
“It’s about being accountable for her actions. That’s pretty big, there’s a lot of people that depend on these kinds of markets and it’s their livelihoods and she shouldn’t be getting away with something like that.”
Serrick said she hopes this sets a precedent for other people who may be in this situation.
“It’s happened to me before and they should be accountable,” she said.
“If you can’t follow through, you should be giving people their money back. That’s just how it is and I get it, situations happen, things get cancelled, I get it. But you shouldn’t have to not get your money back and lose out. We work hard for our money and we work hard for these events.”
In a Monday news release, police said they believe there are more theft victims in connection to the cancelled It’s a Christmas Market. They’re asking anyone who may have lost money, or has information about what happened, to contact them.
CTV News requested an interview with Waterloo regional police but they were not able to provide one.
Oct. 26 – Vendors learn both the third annual It’s A Christmas Market and Shopalooza have been abruptly cancelled. Organizer Stacy Cliff announces she’s pulled the plug in a Facebook post.
“It is with my most profound apologies that my mental health addiction compiled with my absolute selfishness has created a storm I cannot control,” Cliff writes.
Stacy Cliff talks to CTV News during a past market. (File photo/CTV Kitchener)
Oct. 27 – In a telephone interview with CTV News, Cliff confirms she lost the vendors’ deposits through gambling.
“I don’t know what happened. It all just snowballed. I kept thinking that I’d spend $100 here, $100 there and I’d be able to get a big win and put it all back. And that never happened,” she says.
Vendors tell CTV Kitchener they’ve been left scrambling.
“My blood boiled because I personally am a mom of five and this was my chance of making a little extra income for them for Christmas, not only has this taken away from me – but my kids as well,” said Nicole Franzkowiak of Night Ravens Designs.
Oct. 30 – The Cambridge Legion, which was set to host Shopalooza on Nov. 19, says the market can go ahead without Cliff’s involvement.
Max Dyke, the event coordinator at the Hespeler Legion, says the legion held the room for the vendors after one of them came and explained the situation.
“The people were duped. It was just human I guess, to allow them to try and get back part of what they had lost. That’s my only reasoning,” Dyke says.
Nov. 1 – New organizers find a way for the Christmas market at Bingemans to proceed despite challenges with licences, permits and funding.
“A lot of people rely on this for Christmas money, and even just to get through the rest of their year,” Jordan Butler, one of the new organizers, says. “Some take a long time to get ready for this, so we just felt awful.”
“I hope that it just kind of opens everybody’s hearts and puts a smile on people’s faces,” organizer Sierra Gregorio, who also runs Sili Sie Company, says.
“It’s almost like a Christmas miracle.”
Nov. 6 – Waterloo regional police announce they’re now investigating 22 reports of theft in connection to the cancellation of the It’s Christmas Market.
Police say they believe there are more victims and ask anyone who lost money or has information about what happened to contact them.