The Sharper Image

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Sharper Image
IndustryConsumer Electronics and Lifestyle Products
Founded1977; 42 years ago (1977)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
2010 (2010) (Relaunched)
FoundersRichard Thalheimer
HeadquartersFarmington Hills, Michigan, U.S.
Key people
Lance Reese,
ParentCamelot Venture Group ThreeSixty Group, Inc.

The Sharper Image is an American brand that offers consumers home electronics, air purifiers, gifts and other high-tech lifestyle products through its website, catalog, and third-party retailers. The Sharper Image catalog and website are owned and operated by Michigan-based Camelot Venture Group,[1] while the brand licensing is owned by ThreeSixty Group, Inc.[2]

The brand has been in operation since its relaunch in 2010. The earlier consumer products retailer by that name was founded by Richard Thalheimer and was in business from 1977 until its closing in 2008. The company sold merchandise through dozens of retail stores throughout the United States, a monthly catalog and its website, along with business-to-business sales teams which marketed products for corporate incentive programs and wholesale to retailers.


The Sharper Image was the brainchild of Richard Thalheimer. The company started in 1977 as a catalog business to sell jogging watches.[3] Later, through what had become an iconic catalog,[4] The Sharper Image expanded its product assortment to include high end, futuristic gadgets, electronics, massage chairs, and air purifiers. Popular products such as the Ionic Breeze and exclusive models of Human Touch massage chairs[5] helped propel The Sharper Image to become an iconic American brand with 187 retail stores in 38 states.[6]

Corporate change[edit]

In 2006 there was a change in the board of directors of the company, including the removal of Thalheimer as CEO.[7] Thalheimer was replaced by Chairman Jerry W. Levin.[8] Not long after, on April 9, 2007, Steven A. Lightman became the president and CEO.[9]


The Sharper Image stock price reached a then-record low of 29 cents a share on February 20, 2008.

On February 25, 2008, The Sharper Image announced it had received notification that it would be delisted from the NASDAQ exchange. The company filed for bankruptcy protection with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware. Sharper Image said it had $251.5 million of assets and $199 million of debts as of January 31, 2008, according to the filing.[10] All of its retail stores were closed by the end of 2008.[11]


On May 29, 2008, a joint venture led by units of private investment firms Hilco Consumer Capital, Infinity Lifestyle Brands, Gordon Brothers Group and Bluestar Alliance won a bankruptcy auction to acquire the assets of The Sharper Image, paying $49 million plus some contingent recovery for the company's assets.[12] The Sharper Image name was licensed and used to sell products through third-party retailers, including Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, OfficeMax, Big 5 Sporting Goods,[13] or through the branded website. New products were created through partnerships with other businesses.[13][14][15]


In August 2009, Camelot Venture Group secured the rights to operate a new Sharper Image catalog and website,, and appointed David Katzman as CEO. In 2011, Iconix Brand Group bought the Sharper Image brand[16] and controlled all licensing agreements, while Camelot Venture Group continued to operate the catalog and website. In June 2014, Camelot Venture Group acquired the rights to the consumer-facing division of the brand (catalog and e-commerce) from Iconix Brand Group. In December 2016, Irvine California-based ThreeSixty Group, purchased The Sharper Image brand licensing rights from Iconix Brand Group, for US$100 million.[2] Camelot Venture Group continues to grow the Sharper Image brand through the website, increased catalog circulation, digital marketing, consumer promotions, and heightened presence on social media.[17] In April 2018, Camelot Venture Group appointed Lance Reese as CEO.

Advertising and business[edit]

The Sharper Image's advertising budget was primarily directed to its monthly catalog for about the first 20 years of its existence.[18] Today, The Sharper Image features products and promotions through multiple digital and traditional marketing mediums, including TV commercials, email, search engine marketing, display ads, its blog, and its social media outlets - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. In addition, it maintains the tradition of high-profile catalog covers, recently featuring stars such as Josh Duhamel, Heidi Klum, Betty White and Megan Fox.[19][20]

The Sharper Image website continues to showcase innovative and unique products,[21] carrying both The Sharper Image name and well-known brand names, such as Bose and Human Touch. While various products are featured in gift guides across the internet,[22][23] The Sharper Image website also features its own Gift Guides for occasions such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the major holiday season.[24][25]

Products from the website are known to be featured in tech blogs,[26][27] and popular TV segments, such as The Today Show.[28]

Sharper Image licensed products can be found in major retail stores such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, and Macy's.


  1. ^ "The Sharper Image - Official Site: Unique, Innovative, and Fun Gifts for your home or office". Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  2. ^ a b "Manufacturer Buys Sharper Image". 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  3. ^ Liedtke, Michael. "Sharper Image founder Thalheimer is removed as CEO". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-12-26. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  4. ^ "With Sharper Image's Demise, A Way Of Life Gone". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Sharper Image Corp.: Private Company Information - Bloomberg". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  7. ^ Kim, Ryan (2006-09-27). "Sharper Image axes chief executive". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  8. ^ "Jerry W. Levin". Archived from the original on 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  9. ^ "Sharper Image Appoints Steven A. Lightman President and Chief Executive Officer". Business Wire. 2007-03-26. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  10. ^ McCarty, Dawn; Cotten Timberlake (2008-02-20). "Sharper Image, Lillian Vernon File for Bankruptcy as Sales Slow". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  11. ^ Taub, Eric (2009-01-18). "The Sharper Image Brand Outlives the Stores". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  12. ^ Chasan, Emily (2008-05-29). "Investment firms win Sharper Image in bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  13. ^ a b Taub, Eric (2009-01-18). "Sharper Image Stores Are Dead, but the Brand Goes On". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  14. ^ Fredrix, Emily (2009-07-01). "Meltdown 101: Shuttered stores' sites still sell". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  15. ^ Kavilanz, Parija B. (2009-04-26). "Brands of defunct retailers making a comeback — Apr. 26, 2009". Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  16. ^ "Iconix acquires The Sharper Image brand".
  17. ^ "The Sharper Image". Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  18. ^ "Morningstar Document Library". Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  19. ^ "Sharper Image Debuts its Holiday Campaign Starring Actor, Josh Duhamel - Iconix". Iconix. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  20. ^ "News-Sharper Image, Camelot Venture Group". Archived from the original on 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  21. ^ "Sharper Image 'Gift Right' For the Holidays - Josh Duhamel Showcases "Boys Like Toys"". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  22. ^ "The Sharper Image Holiday Gift Guide - Mommy Hates Cooking". Mommy Hates Cooking. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  23. ^ "The 2015 Newsweek Gift Guide for Everyone Else". Newsweek. 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  24. ^ "Gift Guide @ Sharper Image". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  25. ^ "Gift Guide @ Sharper Image". Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  26. ^ "2014 Father's day tech and gadgets gift guide | ZDNet". ZDNet. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  27. ^ Stott, Rob. "14 Items in the Sharper Image Catalog that Prove They're Better at Tech Trends than You - Dealerscope". Dealerscope. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  28. ^ "News-Sharper Image, Camelot Venture Group". Archived from the original on 2017-07-18. Retrieved 2017-04-25.

External links[edit]