Popular subscription box company Alltrue laid off its 50 employees in April and began shutting down operations, all without bothering to notify customers who had already shelled out cash and were waiting for deliveries.
Just over two months later, Alltrue, formerly known as Causebox, is relaunching, under new ownership. He emailed customers on Friday, just before the long holiday weekend, saying he will ship undelivered orders this week. Later this month, Alltrue, which allows customers to sign up for quarterly subscription boxes from socially responsible brands, will ship out boxes this summer.
“Alltrue will be able to continue its mission under new ownership committed to preserving the product experience and all the other things you love most about your Alltrue membership, while making on-time shipping and transparent communication a priority. absolute going forward,” the message read.
Customers who canceled their subscription or disputed charges with their bank or credit card issuer received a separate email notifying them that they will not receive a box or refund. Some customers were able to get a refund through a chargeback, either through their bank or through other payment methods like PayPal.
While the company mentions transparency, Alltrue’s email did not reveal the identity of its new owner. The updated address listed on Alltrue’s website—a condo in Santa Monica, California—is owned by Alltrue Retention Marks, an LLC formed Saturday, according to California Secretary of State records. Retention Brands buys and invests in subscription brands with annual sales of over $250,000, through its website. Its only employee on LinkedIn, Ryan Hibbard, was vice president of finance and strategy at Loot Crate, a subscription box service inspired by geeks and fandoms, until 2018. A year later, Loot Crate is go bankruptcy. Another company created by Hibbard after leaving Loot Crate, Bud Crate, was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board of California to avoid paying taxesaccording to the State Secretary of State’s database.
Chris Davis, partner at Retention Brands and former CEO of Loot Crate, confirmed in an email that Retention Brands has acquired Alltrue. “Retention Brands strongly believes in Alltrue’s mission, community, and unique approach to sourcing and retention,” he wrote. “Retention Brands is committed to improving delivery times and maintaining financial stability.”
Hibbard, who sent a similar statement via Linkedin, also registered Dreambox LLC on Saturday, according to the Secretary of State’s records. It’s unclear if he plans to rebrand Alltrue or if Dreambox is a separate company.
While the issues had obviously been brewing for months (it raised prices in January due to rising logistics costs), Alltrue’s collapse was revealed in April when it began an out-of-court proceeding called an assignment for the benefit of creditors, a voluntary alternative to formal bankruptcy, because she was unable to pay her debts. Furious customers who have been left behind for orders they never received have taken to Reddit and Facebook to air their grievances.
During an ABC, a third party liquidates the assets of a company in order to pay its creditors. In this case, a single buyer seems to have picked up Alltrue in one piece to relaunch it. At the time of the CBA’s filing, Alltrue owed at least 21 small businesses $2.26 million for 209,000 units of products to appear in their subscription boxes. Alex Boellner, head of operations at jewelry company Sterling Forever, says he and other suppliers have still not been paid. The third party liquidating Alltrue never responded to them. Boellner and the other suppliers are working together to consider possible legal action.
“Alltrue rerolling and using unpaid goods when they launch is certainly salt in the wound,” says Boellner.
Sandra Lavie, founder of LUCE Beauty, says she lost $244,000 on nearly 26,000 units of unpaid electric facial cleansing devices. For a small business, this is a huge setback. Lavie was forced to close its office and lay off its two employees nearly a week after Alltrue closed. She now works from her home.
“It was difficult,” she says. “I’m just doing my best to recover.”
Alltrue was founded in 2014 as Causebox (it was renamed in 2021) by childhood friends Matt Richardson and Brett McCollum. The company cultivated a tight-knit community of followers who discussed, sold, and traded their items in Facebook groups and other online communities. Last year, Alltrue claimed to have 300,000 subscribers, each paying between $50 and $55 per box.
It is unclear whether customers will return. At least some, if not many, probably won’t. “I wouldn’t sign up again just because they didn’t announce they were going to sink and I just don’t think they’re being very honest,” says Bella Diecidue, a 28-year-old social media strategist from Arlington, Virginia, who previously shared a $200 annual membership with her mother. (She canceled her subscription in June when she discovered Alltrue’s insolvency and disputed the charges with her bank, Wells Fargo. In the end, she was only able to receive a $30 refund for a complimentary product she had ordered additionally to her spring subscription box.)
“I would just warn people to think about whether this is something they want to support after the way they have treated vendors and their customers,” she adds.