The Longaberger Company

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The Longaberger Company
TypePublic
XELB
FoundedDresden, Ohio, US (January 1, 1973 (1973-01-01))
FounderDave Longaberger
Headquarters,
United States
Key people
Robert W. D’Loren (CEO)
ProductsBaskets, Home Décor, Furniture, Wellness, and Jewelry.
OwnerRobert W. D’Loren
ParentXcel Brands www.xcelbrands.com
Websitewww.longaberger.com

The Longaberger Company is an American manufacturer and distributor of handcrafted maple wood baskets and other home and lifestyle products. The company opened in 1973, was acquired in 2013 by CVSL, Inc., and closed in 2018. The following year, Xcel Brands acquired the intellectual property and relaunched the brand, expanding it to include home goods such as furniture, food, jewelry and other handcrafted products.[1]

Founded by Dave Longaberger, the family-owned and -operated company used multi-level marketing to sell its products. It was one of the primary employers in Dresden, Ohio, before it moved to Newark, Ohio in 1997.[2] At its peak in 2000, it had $1 billion in sales,[3] employed more than 8,200 people directly, and had about 45,000 independent distributors (called Home Consultants) selling its products directly to customers.

Its old corporate headquarters on Ohio's State Route 16 is a local landmark known as the "Big Basket."[4] It is a well-known example of novelty architecture, since it takes the shape of the company's biggest seller, the "Medium Market Basket".[5]

History[edit]

Former headquarters of The Longaberger Company in Ohio

In 1919, J.W. Longaberger began as an apprenticeship with The Dresden Basket Factory. He made baskets on the weekends while the Dresden Basket Factory closed during the Great Depression.[6] Eventually, J.W. and his wife Bonnie Jean (Gist) Longaberger eventually raised enough money to purchase the closed basket factory and start a business of their own.[7]

One of J.W. and Bonnie's children, Dave, opened J.W.'s Handwoven Baskets in 1973. Starting in 1978, the company began selling Longaberger baskets through home shows using a multi-level marketing model. Each basket was handmade, signed, and dated by the maker.[citation needed] At its peak, the company employed more than 8,200 people, not counting its direct sales consultants.[8] A combination of a recession and changing tastes in home decor reduced sales, which dropped from 2000's peak of $1 billion, to about $100 million in 2012.[9] In 2013, the company was taken over by a holding company CVSL, Inc., which later became JRJR Networks.[10]

In May 2015, Tami Longaberger, who had led the company since her father died in 1999,[1] resigned as chief executive officer and director of the company.[11]

In February 2016, the company said it would sell the Basket Building and move its employees to Longaberger's factory in Frazeysburg, Ohio.[12]

As of April 2016, there were fewer than 75 full-time and part-time employees; about 30 of those still made baskets.

On May 4, 2018, a note was sent out from a sales force supervisor that the company had ceased operations.[13] In June 2018, the company filed for bankruptcy.[10][14]

The Longaberger brand was revived in 2019 when its intellectual property was purchased by Xcel Brands, led by Robert W. D'Loren, and a licensing agreement was reached with basket-weavers Dresden & Co.[8][15] Tami Longaberger and her sister took part in the firm's re-launch.[16] D'Loren stopped selling baskets through home parties and rebranded the company to include artisan home goods, furniture, food products, and other items.[1] He also focused on digital marketing through social media.[1]

Basket building[edit]

The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building was designed by The Longaberger Company, and executed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering. The building opened in 1997 and sits on a 21.5 acre lot in eastern Newark.[17][18] The basket handles weigh almost 150 tons and can be heated during cold weather to prevent ice damage.[19] Originally, Dave Longaberger wanted all of the Longaberger buildings to be shaped like baskets, but only the headquarters was completed at the time of his death.[citation needed] The company stopped paying property taxes on the building at the end of 2014.[20] Employees moved out in 2016.[20]

In December 2017, the building was purchased by Steve Coon, a Canton, Ohio-based developer who owns Coon Restoration, and his partner, Bobby George, of Cleveland for $1.2 million.[21][17] By November 2018, the pair had put it up for sale.[22] In 2019, the building had not sold and Coon announced plans to turn the building into a luxury hotel and has been working toward having the building added to the National Register of Historic Places.[23]

On October 20, 2019, Heritage Ohio – the state's official historic preservation organization – held the first tour of the building since its 2016 closing as part of fundraising efforts. More than 600 people participated. Executive director Joyce Barrett said, “People were in tears and hugging each other” because "they were so happy to be back in the Basket.”[24]

As of January 2021, the building was on the market for $6.5 million.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ghose, Dave (November 29, 2021). "Longaberger is Transforming Itself into the Largest Marketplace for Artisans". Columbus Monthly. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  2. ^ Mallett, Kent. "Key dates: Rise and fall of The Longaberger Company". The Advocate. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  3. ^ Feran, Tim (April 25, 2013). "Longaberger's new owner intends to fill basket with more direct-sales companies". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved December 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Gunts, Edward (January 4, 2018). "Ohio's famous basket building finally sold". The Architect’s Newspaper. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  5. ^ Sullivan, Mary Ann. "Longaberger Company Home Office". Art History Webmaster Association. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  6. ^ Schultz, Shelly (July 16, 2019). "Baskets make a return with Dresden & Company". Times Recorder. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  7. ^ Schultz, Shelly. "Baskets make a return with Dresden & Company". Zanesville Times Recorder. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Studach, Mel (January 1, 2020). "Longaberger Baskets Are About to Get a New Lease on Life". Architectural Digest. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  9. ^ Tim, Feran (April 25, 2013). "Longaberger's new owner intends to fill basket with more direct-sales companies". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Kavilanz, Parija (August 31, 2020). "Picnic fever is surging. A decades-old basket brand thinks it can make a comeback". CNN. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  11. ^ Mallett, Kent (May 5, 2015). "Tami Longaberger resigns as company CEO". Newark Advocate. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  12. ^ "Iconic Longaberger headquarters to close". Dayton, OH: WHIO-TV. Cox Media Group National Content Desk. February 27, 2016. Archived from the original on February 28, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  13. ^ Feran, Tim. "Longaberger said to have gone out of business". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  14. ^ Mallett, Kent. "Longaberger's final chapter: Bankruptcy liquidation". The Advocate. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  15. ^ Weiker, Jim (November 13, 2019). "Longaberger brand to live again on QVC". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  16. ^ Reddick, Geoff (July 22, 2019). "Longaberger sisters announce potential comeback for iconic basket maker". abc6. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Mallett, Kent. "Potential buyer of former Longaberger basket building sues owner for breach of contract". The Advocate. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  18. ^ The Longaberger Company (n.d.). "Longaberger Facts & Features". The Longaberger Company. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  19. ^ Zurcher, Neil (2008). Ohio Oddities (2nd ed.). Cleveland: Gray & Company. ISBN 978-1-59851-047-8.
  20. ^ a b Mallett, Kent (July 8, 2016). "Longaberger empties famous basket building next week". Newark Advocate. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  21. ^ Bruner, Bethany; DeVito, Maria (December 29, 2017). "A 'big vision' in store for Longaberger basket building". The Newark Advocate. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  22. ^ Feran, Tim (November 27, 2018). "Giant Longaberger Basket Building Again For Sale". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  23. ^ "Longaberger's Big Basket building to be turned into hotel, owner says". WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports. October 21, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  24. ^ Imbler, Sabrina (November 5, 2019). "The Strange Second Life of Ohio's 'Big Basket' Building". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  25. ^ Mallett, Kent. "Longaberger basket building won't become hotel, on market for $6.5 million". NewarkAdvocate. Retrieved January 15, 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°3′49″N 82°20′48″W / 40.06361°N 82.34667°W / 40.06361; -82.34667