Arivilla Peerboom wants her gun back.
It's actually her husband's gun, and was his father's before that, and they want to pass it on to their grandson. The Goodrich, N.D., couple sent the weapon, made by the Ithaca Gun Co., to the manufacturer in March for repair.
The Peerbooms are hoping that New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office will help them, and dozens of other families, get their guns from the now-closed company on Allen Street in Auburn. After an anticipated sale fell through in early June, the group of investors that owns Ithaca Gun shut it down.
Paul Larabee, a spokesman for Spitzer, said the attorney general's satellite offices in Binghamton, Rochester and Syracuse have received more than a dozen phone calls from people who have unsuccessfully tried to contact Ithaca Gun. The company's Web site was shut down. Phones, except for one connected to a fax machine, have been disconnected.
Meanwhile, the principal investor, Andy Sciarabba of Ithaca, said he has every intention of returning all of the guns that have been entrusted to the company.
One of his two remaining staff members has been working to compile a list of customers who have inventory with the company. He encouraged anyone trying to contact the company to send an e-mail to Katrinka Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org. He said letters may also be sent to the company.
"We want to get the stuff back as quickly as possible," Sciarabba said. "We're not going to be able to repair anything. We don't have the staff. But we do want to get the guns back to people. We know that they all have sentimental value."
Larabee said Spitzer's office's goal is to be helpful at this point.
"We will identify the facts and issues," Larabee said. "We've had sufficient contacts from customers, and we will be reaching out to Ithaca Gun."
Peerboom said she is out not only the gun, but the $75 the company charged to assess what was wrong with it and the $535.50 that was put on a credit card in anticipation that the gun would be repaired. Several other people who contacted Spitzer's office also complained they had put deposits down on new guns, or had paid for them and they were never received.
"That, I can't help with," Sciarabba said.
He said it's impossible for him to refund anyone their money because when the company closed, the investors, in essence, foreclosed on the assets. He said there is no cash left and the company is selling machine parts to meet payroll of its remaining employees.
It also owes most of a $150,000 revolving loan to Cayuga County. Sciarabba said the investors had put $2 million into the company since 1995 and "never realized one dime."
He said he and the other investors bought the company out of bankruptcy because they wanted to rescue the reputation of the company, which was founded in the 1880s in Ithaca. It moved to King Ferry in the mid-1980s, where it continued to manufacture inexpensive, high-quality guns. Ithaca Gun moved to Allen Street in late April, but when a Rhode Island man backed out of purchasing the company, Sciarabba said he was left with no other option but to close.
"We tried," he said. "No one can say we didn't try."
Staff writer Louise Hoffman Broach can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 238 or email@example.com