In March of this year, when we published a gut-wrenching story of abuse, betrayal, and complicity in vintage retailer Buffalo Exchange‘s Colorado franchises, it appeared that the case had come to an impasse. Only a few months before publishing, the Denver District Attorney had announced there would be no criminal charges filed against Todd Colletti, the part-owner of the franchises and the alleged predator in most of the abuse.
On May 11, all that changed, when three former employees filed a civil suit not only against Colletti but also Buffalo Exchange Corporate and all of the franchise’s silent partners. The suit charges that Colletti created a “hostile work environment based on sex,” something that was “aided and abetted” by Buffalo Exchange corporate as they were aware of exactly what was happening in the Colorado stores and consistently forwarded sexual harassment and assault complaints about Colletti directly to him, for him to adjudicate as he saw fit.
The testimonies of the three employees involved in the suit, as well as a fourth whose assault is outside the statute of limitations (six years in Colorado), painted a grim picture that closely aligned with the stories told on @buffalo.in.the.room, an Instagram account created to share stories of abuse experienced at the stores. Three of the survivors had been sexually assaulted during their tenure at the store and a fourth had been harassed constantly until she left in solidarity with another assault survivor. They described a physically menacing and aggressive work environment and a culture of grooming, aided by rampant drug and alcohol abuse, during and after store hours.
Attorney Ben Lebsack of Colorado firm Lowrey, Parady, and Lebsack listed dozens of pieces of incendiary evidence that not only highlighted the abuse experienced working in Mr. Colletti’s stores, but of the highly unethical practices of Buffalo Exchange corporate. Incredibly damning was the fact that high-profile assault and harassment complaints had been made about Colletti in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020.
No disciplinary action was taken against Colletti in any of these circumstances, and in 2016 Buffalo Exchange told those filing complaints that they didn’t work for Buffalo Exchange proper, and therefore they couldn’t be helped. Colletti was allegedly allowed to abuse his staff under the company banner until public outcry reached a crescendo last summer. It was only then that Buffalo Exchange released a statement decrying Colletti’s behavior and ending the franchise agreement with him.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.