Lillian Vernon (company)

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Lillian Vernon Corporation is an American catalog merchant and online retailer that sells household, children's and fashion accessory products. In business since 1951 (when it was founded by Lillian Vernon (person) (a/k/a Lillian Menarche) out of her Mount Vernon, New York apartment; the business name is a combination of her first name and her hometown.

Lillian Vernon (center) donates a refrigerated truck to Citymeals-on-Wheels


Lillian Vernon was started by Lillian Menarche at the age of twenty-four, by placing advertisements in Seventeen magazine for personalized purses and belts.[1] As a result of this success, the Vernon Specialties Company[2] became focused on products for young women by advertising in magazines focused on that emergent market. The Lillian Vernon Catalog, which the company launched in 1956,[3] became an iconic shopping resource for American women, much like its competitor, the Sears catalog. Produced monthly, the catalog was typically 120 pages and usually featured 750 items. In response to a catalog and shopping mall boom in the United States in the 1980s, the company produced a number of specialty catalogs in order to broaden its market, including ones targeted for children and homemakers.[4]

The Lillian Vernon Corporation, founded in 1965, went public in 1987, and was the first company to be founded by a woman to be publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange.[4]

Responding to the increasingly important online market in the early 1990s, the Lillian Vernon Corporation opened a storefront on AOL in 1995 and followed with an online catalog and website. However, by the end of the 1990s, the company began to struggle to meet online needs, especially after the collapse of the Dot-com bubble. After Fred and David Hochberg both declined to take over running their mother's company, Vernon sold it to Zelnick Media in 2003, but retained the symbolic title of non-executive chairman. The company has since changed hands a number of times including emerging from a bankruptcy process in 2008.[5] In October 2015 Lillian Vernon was purchased by principals of Regent Equity Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.

Several Hollywood celebrities began their careers as Lillian Vernon models including Jason Biggs, Monica Potter and Marla Maples.[6]

Pop culture references[edit]

Funny products from the similarly named but imaginary Lillian Verner company are featured in The Lillian Verner Game Show, which was a recurring game show spoof on MADtv.

In the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the song "Sugar Daddy" includes a lyric in which Hedwig tell his American military boyfriend that "I want all the luxuries of the modern age, / Every item on every page / Of the Lillian Vernon catalogue".

Awards and honors[edit]

Lillian Hochberg is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Project Sunshine Award for Philanthropic Leadership and The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.[7] She is a board member of Citymeals-on-Wheels.[8]


  1. ^ Cruice, Valerie (1998-05-24). "Starting Simply, the Story of a Business". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  2. ^ "Education & Resources - National Women's History Museum - NWHM". Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  3. ^ Cherry, Robin. Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Lillian Vernon". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  5. ^ Merced, Michael J. De La (2008-05-03). "Bankruptcy Protection for Retailer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  6. ^ Lillian Vernon official website
  7. ^ "Lillian Vernon — Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ Lillian Hochberg profile

External links[edit]