Florida-based Your CBD Stores Franchising has sued former franchisee Brett Buckwalter — best known to Wichitans as former radio personality Brett Harris — in federal court over more than $363,000 the company said he owes.
“This is really just a dead issue,” Harris said when first contacted about the case. “It’s gone away.”
Harris said he talked with the company and reminded its representatives that in addition to previously having franchises, he also had been the company’s real estate broker and negotiated 64 leases in 42 states.
“They’re good with it.”
A company representative declined to comment except to say it is still pursuing the case.
According to the suit, the company terminated Harris’ agreements with the chain because his stores — he had three in the Wichita area at one point — sold products not approved by the chain.
Your CBD Stores initiated arbitration with Harris under what the lawsuit claims were the terms of the franchise agreement.
An arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association ruled in the company’s favor. According to the lawsuit, Harris has not paid anything yet, so the company filed suit in a collection attempt.
“It’s kind of sad to see this paperwork come across,” Harris said this week.
“It’s an interesting tactic for a company that is really hemorrhaging.”
He said the chain once had 600 stores and now is down to 212.
The company said it had more like 500 stores and now has about 400.
“They’re chasing a myriad of franchisees because the CBD business kind of went south,” Harris said. “My counsel said it’s very sad and desperate.”
He said he’s talked with four other former franchisees and said “they’re getting identical regurgitated paperwork.”
Harris said he hasn’t been a franchisee for two years and that he “compliantly closed the stores.”
He said he “pivoted into cannabis because it’s coming.”
Harris now operates KannaBliss stores at Maple and Ridge Road and at the Shops at Tallgrass near 21st and Rock Road.
“They probably don’t like that that I picked up with my own brand,” Harris said of Your CBD Stores.
He said with his own brand, he can do something that franchise stores can’t, which is to partner with Kansas farmers.
“It’s great to promote the Kansas farmers under this.”
A third KannaBliss store, at Naftzger Park, closed last month because of what Harris called slow traffic and repeated theft. He said he’s planning to open a new store in Andover soon.
Harris said his counsel has told him he has nothing to fear from the Your CBD Stores lawsuit.
“It looks desperate. It really does.”