The Sharper Image
|Industry||Consumer Electronics and Lifestyle Products|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Headquarters||Farmington Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|Parent||Camelot 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, while the brand licensing is owned by ThreeSixty Group, Inc.
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. Later, through what had become an iconic catalog, 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 helped propel The Sharper Image to become an iconic American brand with 187 retail stores in 38 states.
In 2006 there was a change in the board of directors of the company, including the removal of Thalheimer as CEO. Thalheimer was replaced by Chairman Jerry W. Levin. Not long after, on April 9, 2007, Steven A. Lightman became the president and CEO.
As the economy took a turn for the worse, 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 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. All retail stores were closed by the end of 2008.
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. 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, or through the branded website. New products were created through partnerships with other businesses.
In August 2009, Camelot Venture Group secured the rights to operate a new Sharper Image catalog and website, SharperImage.com, and appointed David Katzman as CEO. In 2011, Iconix Brand Group bought the Sharper Image brand 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. 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. In April 2018, Camelot Venture Group appointed Lance Reese as CEO.
Advertising and business
The Sharper Image's advertising budget was primarily directed to its monthly catalog for about the first 20 years of its existence. 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.
The Sharper Image website continues to showcase innovative and unique products, 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, 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.
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