• Jennifer Marks

Not Quite Dead Yet

"I won't be at all surprised to see infomercials or TV shopping broadcastsby Holiday 2010 for 'Fortunoff fine jewelry at affordable prices.'"

Late last week, I Googled the word "linens." The idea was to see how many pure-play internet retailers are out there that I'd never heard of.

Imagine my surprise when the listing that popped up in the lead position was for "The New Linens 'n Things."

The owners of the defunct retailer's intellectual property (Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers Brands) aren't selling merchandise yet, but they are keeping the name alive. A placeholder page at www.thenewlnt.com states: "Linens 'n Things is under new ownership and you'll be blown away with what's to come."

The page promises a wide selection of home textiles, home accessories and housewares "at prices you can afford" and encourages visitors to subscribe to e-mail bulletins that will provide updates on the relaunch as well as promotional offers.

Talk about events moving quickly.

When they bought the trademarks last month, the nameplate's new owners said they hope to launch store-in-store LNT shops eventually, so it will be interesting to see how the brand is positioned (or repositioned) online, who they contract to run the operation, and where they see opportunities to drop in physical LNT shops. Home centers? Hardware stores? Supermarkets?

I fully expect something similar will happen with the Fortunoff name after its assets are auctioned, an event scheduled to take place this week. I won't be at all surprised to see infomercials or TV shopping broadcasts by Holiday 2010 for "Fortunoff fine jewelry at affordable prices."

The Sharper Image — once a 186-store chain — was reconstituted last year as a brand license (owned by Hilco and Gordon Brothers) and will make its home textiles debut next month at the London Luxury showroom during New York Home Fashions Market.

The intellectual property of one-time retailer The Bombay Company was acquired in liquidation last year (Hilco & Gordon Brothers again) and has been licensed to the Otto Group, which intends to push the name into several product categories, including lifestyle, furniture, home accessories and décor, and fashion accessories.

Portico Home, a small chain of home furnishings boutiques that collapsed in 2007, is now a brand owned by home textiles veterans Gregg Haft and Charles Schlang. They are licensing Portico as an organic lifestyle brand in a number of categories, including domestics (licensed to Home Source International).

It seems the effort retailers put into making the store the brand during the go-go bubble years (internet and housing) is paying off — at least for those coming in to pick up the pieces after bankruptcy.

Given the outlook for 2009, I expect more to come.

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See the May 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we discuss our annual Market Basket survey, which finds higher prices and more polyester at leading retailers. See details!