May, 2007: I start selling Bark River Knives with the permission and endorsement of Mike Stewart, President of Bark River Knife and Tool. He posts on KnifeForums.com that I am an authorized Bark River Dealer.
November 2007: I decide that I will contract with Bark River Knife & Tool to manufacture a full-tang Kephart. Mike Stewart and I have several conversations over the phone and decide on the specifications. We agree that these knives will be exclusive to me.
December 2007: The handle materials and quantities are chosen. Mike Stewart sends me a signed confirmation that states the knives will be delivered 90 days from the date of payment. The total is $16,286.90 plus shipping. I send him a certified check for $16,000.00. Mike and I agree over the phone that the balance of $286.90 will be paid with the as of yet undetermined shipping charges.
January 2008: I contact Mike Stewart and ask for a progress report. He says the materials have been ordered. I also ask him for a CAD Drawing with the specifications on it. He says he’ll get one to me soon.
February 2008: No drawing or anything else from Mr. Stewart. I contact him through KnifeForum.com but cannot get any definite answers from him. He does tell me, however, that I need to have a presence on the forum because that’s how the knives sell. I explain my own marketing plan to him.
March 2008: Mike Stewart confirms in writing that the knives will ship on May 15th.
April 2008: I contact Mike Stewart and tell him I’m a bit nervous because May 15th is getting close and I still haven’t received a CAD Drawing, specifications or ANYTHING. He tells me that I will in a few days, but he’s still worried about my presence on KnifeForum.com. I try to explain that I have a marketing plan, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. He also confirms in writing that the knives will be delivered in May.
April 23rd, 2008: I get a UPS 2 Day Express Envelope from Mike Stewart that has a single sheet of paper with a simple line drawing of the knife. No specifications and I’m not even sure it’s a CAD drawing. Please note that this is MONTHS after the delivery date specified in the contract that Mr. Stewart signed.
May 15th, 2008: No knives. Mike and I have an argument over this and he tells me that he thought it was clear that he gets to decide when the knives will be put on the market. This seems to be contrary to the contract that gave a delivery date of 90 days from the date of payment. Additionally, there were no stipulations (written or verbal) as to how the knives would be marketed. And he tells me yet again that he doesn’t think I have a large enough presence on the forum.
June 2008: I give up. I decide that I’ll just wait a few months. At this point, I still have faith in Mike Stewart’s character so I figure that he’ll ship the knives when he’s ready.
September 2008: I go onto KnifeForums.com and find out that Mike Stewart has announced that Bark River is producing full-tang Kepharts and he’d like some feedback from his customers. I contact him questioning this and he writes:
“The project has lost steam and I have to rejuvenate it. This will go distributor wide. You will get you money back. I can't have my product solely in Your hands at this point. I'm sorry for all the trouble you have had but it would have been much better if You had at least stayed in touch with me. You are going to have to step into my shoes and look at this from where I stand. This has been very distressing to me. I cannot hand the reins on this back to you at this point. All I see is the real potential for a bunch of my product sitting out there unsold.”
So I write back that I expect a check in the amount of $16,000.00 on my desk by the end of the week. Mr. Stewart writes:
“You can expect it all You want. You will be paid from the proceeds of the Sale of those knives. That is the way it will happen. That is where the money is and that is how it will come back to You.”
September 25th, 2008: Made contact with Terry Burkhart of Butch, Quinn & Rosmurgy (A Law Firm in Escanaba). He left a voice mail stating that he had sued Bark River before and in his opinion they were “slippery” and that it would be “hard to collect any judgement from.”
Summary: These are the undisputed facts that I can prove through documentation:
1) I paid Mike Stewart $16,000 to manufacture a product that would be available to the public only through me.
2) He sent me a signed confirmation with a delivery date of 90 days. No other conditions or stipulations were given either in writing or verbally.
3) Mike Stewart took my money and did not manufacture the product for almost nine months. He did not deliver the knives at the promised delivery date of 90 days after payment. He then gave me another delivery date of May 15th. He did not deliver the knives at that time either.
On or around August 23rd, Mike Stewart decided that I would no longer be involved in “the project” and asked the KnifeForum.com members for feedback into the design of the knife. This is indisputable proof that after nine months, he still had not manufactured the product. I have not yet been able to get a refund or even a date as to when I would receive a refund.
I'll let you all decide if you want to buy Bark River Knives.......
Bark River Knife & Tool
6911 County Road 426
Escanaba, MI 49829