Authorities build case against the owner of a Deephaven shop.
Dozens of customers of a Lake Minnetonka area sporting-goods store are slowly getting their goods back after the store abruptly closed, leaving more than 100 mountain bikes, snowboards, skis and other outdoor gear in limbo.
Last week, even more customers came forward, for a total of 47 stolen property complaints to Deephaven police since July.
Police say they'll submit a case this week to the Hennepin County attorney's office against Michael Metzler, 35, the owner of Gear Doctors, a repair and consignment shop in Deephaven.
Metzler, of Roseville, was about to relocate the store to St. Paul when he vanished, shutting it down and leaving customers without valuable equipment they had dropped off for sale or repair. He couldn't be reached for comment; all numbers associated with him are disconnected or didn't accept calls.
Metzler opened the Gear Doctors store off County Road 101 S., north of Hwy. 7, in 2011. Business seemed to go well initially, but former employees told the Star Tribune that Metzler got into personal legal issues that put him behind in bills.
Last month, Deephaven police issued two search warrants to find and confiscate more than $15,000 worth of gear stashed in a St. Paul warehouse. This week, they've continued to return some of the bikes, skis and other outdoors gear to customers such as Cameron Olsen of Chanhassen, whose 13-year-old daughter finally got her $800 skis back after dropping them off at Gear Doctors nearly six months ago.
In Chaska, Mike Wagner has been without his son's brand-new snowboard and nearly new downhill skis for four months since they were dropped off at Gear Doctors for a tune-up.
"We're just happy to get our stuff back," he said.
Like a lot of customers of Gear Doctors, which had advertised coupons on Groupon, Living Social and other online deal sites, the Wagners went to Gear Doctors because they got a $50 online coupon. In June, they dropped off the skis and snowboard, but both times they returned to pick up the equipment, Wagner said staff at the store said they were out of wax -- an odd problem for an outdoor gear shop specializing in ski repair, he said.
On the third trip, they found the store suddenly abandoned. Messages left with the company were never answered so they joined dozens of other customers filing complaints with police and the local Better Business Bureau. They got a refund from Living Social for their online coupon and reclaimed their skis and snowboard at the police station last week.
From now on, Wagner said they'll take their gear to an established shop for repairs.
"I'm going to stick to the people we know," he said. "You just don't hear about this happening every day."
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib