ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- A local business owner says he is locked out after a dispute with his landlord, leaving customers stuck in the middle.
Casey Ray's STL Dog Trainers is a locally-owned dog training company. Most recently, training staff worked out of two locations in Cottleville and Wildwood. It's the Wildwood location at 16528 Manchester Road that recently became the center of a contention.
After finding the doors to his Wildwood location barricaded by a board and locked, Ray is scrambling to get in touch with his clients.
"Hang tight and we're going to make everything right," he said, speaking with News 4 from his Cottleville location.
Getting in contact with his clients is difficult these days considering their contact information is locked inside the property he's been sub-leasing from the owners of Puppingham Palace, next door.
"We just went through payroll and I had to get temporary checks from the bank because our checkbook is in there. All of our books, all of our computers, all of our files, all of our trade secrets, all of our training equipment," said Ray, listing other items he can't access while locked out.
Ray says business started to slow after at least four other businesses, including Big Bear Grill and Panera, moved out of the shopping complex his facility is in.
"If we do our job right, we don’t have recurring clients. We are always looking for new clients. It makes it hard in a place that’s becoming a ghost town to keep doing what we do," said Ray.
Ray says he tried to be proactive by approaching the owners about their lease agreement when he noticed the dwindling foot-traffic. He admits he eventually fell behind on rent payments.
"I said, 'What can we do? Obviously something needs to change here. We're not going to be able to continue on like this. Can we reconstruct the lease? Can we try to get out of the lease early?'' said Ray.
Ray says e-mails between their attorneys shows they were working toward a resolution. But days later, they found their dock locked.
News 4 reached out to the landlord at Puppingham Palace but they declined an interview. The attorney for Casey Ray's said after News 4 reached out to Puppingham Palace, the landlord's attorney contacted them about making arrangements for Ray to get into the Wildwood store and retrieve their belongings.
In the meantime, Casey Ray's is working out its Cottleville location and a temporary location in Ellisville for the weekly group classes.