Liberty, an owner of various e-commerce businesses, said Thursday that it will combine Celebrate with its unit, which sells Halloween costumes.

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Kirkland-based Celebrate Express, an Internet and catalog retailer of party supplies, is being acquired for $31 million by Liberty Media of Englewood, Colo.

Liberty, an owner of various e-commerce businesses, said Thursday that it will combine Celebrate with its unit, which sells Halloween costumes.

Celebrate investors will receive $3.90 a share under the agreement — a 70 percent premium over the company’s Thursday close price of $2.30.

Celebrate’s stock shot up more than 50 percent to about $3.50 in after-hours trading, while shares of Liberty Interactive, the division that will control Celebrate, held at $15.35. Liberty Interactive has ownership interests in, Expedia and IAC/InterActive Corp.

“This will make BuySeasons the stand-out leader in the online party, costume and Halloween industry,” Liberty Media Senior Vice President Michael Zeisser said in a statement.

Liberty expects to close on the deal in the next three months, though it still must be approved by Celebrate shareholders. Celebrate officials declined to comment Thursday, leaving unanswered questions about the fate of the company’s Kirkland headquarters.

Celebrate disclosed in April that it had been approached by suitors interested in a merger or acquisition. The company subsequently reported a fiscal third-quarter loss of $13 million, up from a year-ago loss of $137,378.

The company also said it expected to report a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter and for fiscal 2008. Although profitable in the previous three years, it had a “history of losses,” the company said, and it “may incur losses again in future fiscal years, especially if we introduce new brands or products, make investments in our systems or infrastructure, or continue to have difficulties in our distribution center.”

Shares of Celebrate Express have traded between $2.19 and $10.70 in the past year. The company was founded in 1994 by Mike and Jan Jewell as Birthday Express, a catalog retailer of party supplies. It launched two years later.

— Amy Martinez


Ivey Photo will shutter its South Lake Union store Monday, leaving Seattle with one less photo lab processing professional-grade film. Twelve employees will lose their jobs. — AM

Hansen’s Florist, a Georgetown fixture since 1945, has found a new home in the same neighborhood. On July 2, the floral shop, at 1201 S. Bailey St., will move to 5963 Fourth Ave. S. Its landlord at the previous location had given it until the end of next month to leave. — AM

Redhook Ale Brewery has launched a new advertising campaign with the theme, “What would Redhook do?” Among the radio, print and billboard ads is a building wall in downtown Seattle painted with the words, “Redhook would never move your favorite team to Oklahoma.”

Executives said the company doesn’t even sell beer in Oklahoma because of the state’s unusual beer-distribution rules. Redhook will merge early next week with Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland. — MA

Horny Toad Activewear of Santa Barbara, Calif., has acquired the Nau apparel brand for an undisclosed sum. Horny Toad said it will reintroduce Nau as a new and separate company in August.

Portland-based Nau had a store in Bellevue Square and another planned for Fremont when it closed in May, citing a “crisis in the capital markets.”

Under Horny Toad, Nau will remain committed to social and environmental responsibility, the company said. Products will be sold through its Web site and “like-minded” retailers. — AM

Safeway opens a new 54,590-square-foot store in downtown Bellevue today with a wine cellar including 1,450 varietals, bars for sushi, salad and olives, and a hearth oven for artisan bread.

The store, at 300 Bellevue Way N.E., will replace an existing Safeway across the street, which closed Thursday night and will be torn down to make way for a mixed-use development. — MA

Four leading berry producers from Michigan, Chile, California and Oregon have formed a berry-marketing company called Naturipe Foods in Olympia to offer customers year-round access to berries.

It will represent the largest market share of blueberries in North America and sell other berries as well. — MA

To save food dollars, about 45 percent of shoppers are buying in bulk, 50 percent are using more coupons and 8.8 percent are skipping meals so their children have enough food, according to an online survey by Seattle-based About 650 people have responded to the survey. — MA

Launi Skinner, the former president of Starbucks’ U.S. operations, has been hired as president and chief operating officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a junk-removal service based in Vancouver, B.C., with more than 300 franchise partners. Skinner left Starbucks in March. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or