How Kevin O'Leary helped this small business owner recoup $200,000

Kevin O'Leary's advice for a small business owner with a Neiman Marcus consignment deal
Kevin O'Leary's advice for a small business owner with a Neiman Marcus consignment deal

Even as retail sales started to rebound in May, a growing list of retailers have filed for bankruptcy as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked on the economy. Those bankruptcies can have a trickle down effect on other small business owners, too. 

Case in point: On CNBC's new web series "Got a Money Dispute? Ask Kevin," host Kevin O'Leary helped Maria, a jewelry business owner, with an issue involving Neiman Marcus, which filed for bankruptcy on May 7.

"We really need your help," Maria, who runs her handcrafted jewelry business with her dad "in the heart of New York City," told O'Leary on the episode.

According to Maria, she and her father had a consignment deal with Neiman Marcus. "We've been hit very hard with this pandemic, especially with our retail partner Neiman Marcus declaring Chapter 11," Maria told O'Leary. 

"We currently have 80% of our inventory consigned with them, which amounts to $200,000 that we currently can't get back. We have tried to contact them and get our inventory back ... but we were unable to."

"That's serious coin," O'Leary commented on the amount of inventory, "and for her business, it probably means life or death."

But O'Leary was optimistic.

"The good news is, that inventory is on consignment, which means Maria still owns it. It's hers. She lent it to the store until they sold it." But "this thing is mired in a bankruptcy now," which complicates the process, he said on the episode.

"What usually happens in situations like this is you start making calls, [and] nobody answers. Nobody cares. You're one of a thousand people screaming to get your money back out of a bankruptcy."

So, O'Leary decided to give Neiman Marcus a call himself.

"One of the great things about being Mr. Wonderful is, everybody returns my calls," he said. 

"I told the nice man [from Neiman Marcus] exactly what happened, and how Maria needed her inventory back, because Neiman didn't own it, she did," O'Leary said on the episode. O'Leary then coordinated a meeting between Maria and the retailer.

When O'Leary checked in a few days later, it was all being worked out, he said.

It was "actually incredible," according to Maria.

Neiman Marcus "asked me for all the paperwork and it was at my fingertips. So, I emailed it to them right away, and in less than a minute, the head of jewelry got in touch with me and apologized for not getting back to me earlier," Maria told O'Leary.

"They said that they would make it right, and they will file the appropriate paperwork so that we can get our collection back within a few weeks. [The collection is] 80% of our entire inventory, so we would have probably been in a lot of trouble and most likely went out of business."

Since the video was filmed, a representative for Neiman Marcus told CNBC Make It that though there are some "procedural hurdles to get the jewelry back" due to the bankruptcy, the company found a solution. And Maria told CNBC on Tuesday that Neiman Marcus confirmed to her she will receive her jewelry on Friday.

Although O'Leary had a hand in helping Maria, he said her "meticulous record keeping saved both of us here." 

"Without that, I couldn't have helped you," he said. "That was the key. You've done a great job tracking all this stuff and making sure you knew where it was. That was brilliant."

Check out more episodes of's "Got a Money Dispute? Ask Kevin" on YouTube, and ask Kevin your questions during his live chat on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."