It just needed to be updated and marketed differently, he said.
Xcel Brands relaunched the Longaberger baskets on home shopping channel QVC in November and adopted an online sales strategy. Instead of salespeople selling the baskets at home shows as they once did, D’Loren said they will now sell the baskets (which are priced from $49 to $195) through digital storefronts.
Perhaps the biggest mistake the company made in the past was failing to adapt to how consumers were gravitating to online shopping, said D’Loren.
D’Loren said he has no plans to remove the network of independent sellers for the brand. What’s different now is that the selling process is online and supported by video and live streaming content.
“The most powerful form of selling is through product demonstrations by passionate people,” he said, adding that the brand currently has 3,500 salespeople, or “stylists,” and plans to rapidly add more.
The updated approach is showing some early success, said D’Loren. “To date, we have sold out of all new basket collections well ahead of anticipated demand,” he said.
A basket-shaped headquarters
At its height, The Longaberger Company, founded in 1973 by Dave Longabergerreached $1 billion in sales, according to D’Loren. It had more than 8,000 employees and its baskets were sold through a network of tens of thousands of independent salespeople, much like Avon or Tupperware.
Its headquarters was located in a building shaped like a giant picnic basket, which still exists and is now a popular state landmark and tourist stop.
After Longaberger’s death in 1999, the business took a turn, D’Loren said. As the economy headed into a recession post-9/11, pricey picnic baskets weren’t top-of-mind purchases for consumers struggling to hold on to their jobs.
The company started to unravel over the next couple of years and laid off hundreds of workers, D’Loren said.
In 2013, in its 40th year of business, The Longaberger Company was acquired by a Dallas-based holding firm CVSL which later became JRJR Networks. It continued to produce handmade baskets.