PeoplePrints 3D was a promising start-up in 2016, quickly earning a profit by turning selfies into three-dimensional statues that closely resembled customers.
But lately, the Old City shop has merely resembled a real business, according to upset customers. The store’s door is locked during its stated business hours. No one answers the phone or company email. And consumers who paid hundreds of dollars for selfie statues haven’t received their orders, months after they were charged.
“I’m really starting to worry that we may not get the product, which we were looking forward to,” said Nate Schwartz, 24, from Manhattan, who said he paid $375 for a figurine with his brother during a November trip to Philadelphia. “We might not even be able to reach them to get a refund because there’s no response.”
It’s not only customers who can’t get in touch with the store or its owner, Julian Rinaldi, son of Philip Rinaldi, the former chief executive of Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC. Julian Rinaldi did not return phone calls, emails, or social media messages seeking comment over several weeks.
One of PeoplePrint 3D’s business partners, Twindom, hasn’t heard from Rinaldi, either. Twindom, a 3-D scanning company based in Emeryville, Calif., sold PeoplePrints 3D its body scanner and provides data processing and order fulfillment services for the Philadelphia store, according to Richard Berwick, Twindom’s chief technology officer and co-founder.
“I know they completely stopped responding to us in December,” Berwick said. “We get paid by Julian to do the printing and providing the service. Without [PeoplePrints 3D] being accessible, we don’t have permission to use the data for these users.”
PeoplePrints 3D opened in August 2016, capitalizing on the obsession with selfies by offering head, half-body, and full-body figurines. The business photographed customers in-store and outsourced the 3-D printing, with customers getting the statues delivered to their door. Prices ranged from $35 for a three-quarter-inch single bust to $1,619 for a four-person, 14-inch full-body figurine, according to the store’s website.
The business was already profitable by December 2016, with monthly sales reaching $20,000, the Inquirer reported that year. Rinaldi, who previously helped open a restaurant and taught winemaking, had said he planned to expand the 3-D selfie shop to the suburbs. His website said a Jersey City location is “coming soon.”
The business largely received positive reviews on social media and Yelp, too, until December 2018. Since then, customers have complained about undelivered orders and the inability to reach anyone from the business for weeks or even months.
One of those disgruntled customers is Steven Wagner, a 66-year-old Limerick resident who ordered a figurine as a Christmas gift for his 91-year-old mother. He said he drove 30 miles on Dec. 4 to the 3-D print shop near the corner of Third and Market Streets, only to find the store closed during its stated open hours.
Later that day, he emailed Rinaldi, who explained that he was “recovering from the flu that turned into pneumonia and I had a doctor’s appointment I couldn’t miss because I’m getting married this Saturday,” according to a copy of the email. (City records show Rinaldi married Adrienne Ockrymiek and received a marriage license earlier that week.) Rinaldi invited Wagner to return and offered a 25 percent discount. Wagner agreed, and paid $222.91 the next day, according to his credit card records.
Wagner said weeks went by without receiving the order. He emailed Rinaldi twice in January, but the messages got no response. Calls to the business showed that the voice mailbox was full.
“I would appreciate you contacting me ASAP to let me know when I can expect the product — if at all,” Wagner wrote in one email. “It is for my 91-year-old mother, who requested it for Christmas and is in failing health, and if it doesn’t arrive before she passes, I’ll be extremely disappointed.”
Wagner said he eventually got in touch with an employee on the phone. The worker, Wagner said, told him that Rinaldi had been in a car accident and that someone would get back to him. No one did.
“I would just hope that those who purchased these figurines as I did would eventually get their product. Whatever the hang up is, I’d hope they get it corrected,” Wagner, who has since disputed the charge with his credit card company, said this month. “It’s a very cool product and I wish we could have enjoyed ours.”
Berwick, the Twindom co-founder, said his company had partnered with PeoplePrints 3D to run a pop-up 3-D print shop at a Bloomingdale’s in New York City during the holiday season. The installation should have lasted through December, he said, but it ended unexpectedly early.
“It got pulled just a few weeks after it got installed,” Berwick said.
Alex Wyriko, a 30-year-old construction worker from Philadelphia, said he paid $340 for a three-person figurine in November that he never received. He said that is roughly three days’ worth of pay for him, and that he contacted the Federal Trade Commission.
“I need some help,” he said. “For me, it’s big money.”