Customers say Conroe shop owner disappeared after taking money for Astros gear

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

CONROE, Texas - Customers of what was a popular sports and memorabilia story in Conroe said they're upset after they claim the store owner failed to deliver merchandise. 

R&A Sports on North Frazer Road in Conroe was the place for fans who wanted Astros gear during the 2017 World Series run, including the retro sweater made popular by Kate Upton. 

KPRC Channel 2 News featured the store and the owner, Rich Mendenhall, for having the sweater and other items. 

Fast forward two years, and frustrated fans said they've been left without their money and Astros gear. 

The store is empty, and the owner of the closed business has disappeared. 

What happened

Sergio Cabrera is a huge sports fans and enjoys the Astros.  In December of 2018, he purchased a jersey for his wife from the store for Christmas.  It was on sale for $70.36, but he never saw the jersey or his money. 

"That was December of 2018, and I'm still waiting for it," said Cabrera. 

He said he messaged  Mendenhall, the owner, several times for months and every time, there was an excuse.   

"In mid-April, he said he had a huge backorder from Majestic and it would not be shipping anytime soon, telling me that he had gone to the hospital and was in the ER and stuff," explained Cabrera.  "I was kind of sympathetic to that, and I even told him, ‘Hope you get well, just order my jersey whenever you get time.'"

Cabrera said April turned into June and then in August, he gave the owner an ultimatum. 

"I messaged him and said you either you give me my jersey or you refund my money, and that's when he blocked me," said Cabrera. 

He posted his experience on a popular Astros fan page called Houston Astros Nation.  Others started to echo the same complaints.

Raffle winners not getting merchendise 

Bethany Hailey lives in Virginia.  She's not from Texas but is a huge Astros fan. When R&A Sports became popular, she ordered items too. 

"I ordered an Astros hoodie, and he actually sent me the stuff that I ordered, but then once I got that stuff, I was thinking, ‘OK, this guy must be legit,' so I started to participate in his raffles," explained Hailey. 

She said she spent about $10 for a spot, totaling about $200. Hailey supposedly won a George Springer and Alex Bregman jersey. 

"He told me I won them, and ever since  those days that he said that I won, it was an excuse as to why he couldn't send the jerseys. He was in the hospital or he had a lot going on," said Hailey. 

"I paid into it and won these jerseys. I was so excited, and I kind of teared up once I found out that they weren't coming, but  I don't know, I just don't understand how someone can do that to somebody and then go to sleep at night," expressed Hailey. 

Other customers

Some of those frustrated include people who said they paid Mendenhall money and gave him their own personal memorabilia to have it signed by professional athletes. People have posted that they haven't received their merchandise or autographs.

The owner

Mendenhall has since changed his phone number, he doesn't reside at his listed address and the store he occupied for the last two years is empty. 

The only thing left at the store is a note on the door from an angry customer warning others about the business. 

His soon-to-be ex-wife said she filed for divorce months ago and the document will be finalized on Friday. She claims she, too, is out of money and said in a statement, "My sincerest apologies go out to the all the sports fans who were deceived." 

Police

Conroe police said people could file a police report but ultimately, this is a civil matter. 

"I've talked to two officers. One of them was looking into it, I think he's still looking into it, but the other officer told me that my real option  at this point is a civil suit, but seeing as that I'm not from Texas, it would cost me more money and paperwork and travel than I spent on the raffle," explained Hailey. "I learned a valuable lesson. Anything Astros-related I buy will be from Minute Maid Park or Fanatics."

"I'm trying to get justice, not only for me, I'm trying to do this for everybody that was scammed," said Cabrera.

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