The new owners of Pier 1 Imports say they’re preparing to launch a new e-commerce business under the 58-year-old brand’s name in late August.
The sale of Pier 1 Imports, announced earlier in July, was approved in bankruptcy court Thursday to Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), a company co-owned by social media influencer Tai Lopez and former NASA scientist Alex Mehr.
The investors paid $31 million for Pier 1’s intellectual property, which includes its trademark name, its data, including customer lists and other assets related to e-commerce.
Pier 1 had operations issues and came to the e-commerce business late, but its strengths were its in-house designers, its merchandisers and its longtime relationships with factories and artisans all over the world.
Pier 1’s early signature items were decorative patio wind chimes and wicker and rattan furniture, including papasan chairs. Then, for years, the retailer had success selling its own dinnerware, glassware, linens and decorative furniture and accessories.
“We are currently evaluating and interviewing both past Pier 1 staff and new hires to help continue building the Pier 1 teams,” Mehr said.
The Fort Worth-based home-furnishings retailer, which is winding down its bankruptcy, is still holding going-out-of-business sales at hundreds of stores, and that will continue well into the fall.
The Pier1.com website is no longer taking orders and is directing shoppers to search for a store nearby.
“Customers can expect the same signature home goods and accessories, and at the end of August, a new website, e-commerce experience,” Lopez said.
When asked what they found appealing about Pier 1, Lopez said, “We love the longstanding loyal customers and want to bring them that same experience — or better than they’re used to.”
Lopez said he remembers his mom shopping at Pier 1 as a kid, and his family has shopped there over the years.
Fierce competition in the home-goods category sent Pier 1 Imports into bankruptcy in February after it had tried to find a buyer that would keep the retail-operating company intact. Then the pandemic hit, dashing hopes for finding a buyer in bankruptcy. The Chapter 11 reorganization turned into a liquidation, and Retail Ecommerce ended up with the brand.
Lopez and Mehr have acquired brands and built new online businesses with names with consumer recognition, but their operations failed. Distressed retail brands is what Lopez calls “low hanging fruit” to be in invested in and revitalized. He says on their investor pitch video that they are buying these brands for “pennies on the dollar.” Pier 1 had sales of more than $1.5 billion in 2019, but that was from more than 900 stores and an e-commerce business.
They founded REV last year “as a means for giving life to businesses that struggled to succeed in the age of e-commerce.” Its other brands are Linen ‘n Things, The Franklin Mint and Dressbarn, which was shut down last year by Ascena Retail Group.
Ascena closed all 544 Dressbarn stores and sold the brand name. Now Ascena, which operates almost 3,000 Ann Taylor, Loft, Justice and Lane Bryant stores, is in bankruptcy.
REV said it launched the Dressbarn website in January and has added phone apps, which together had 3.5 million unique monthly visitors in June and a sales increase of 18% from the prior month.
This week, REV stepped up to be the floor bidder, known as the stalking horse, in an auction for a sporting-goods retailer with 140 stores in the Northeast that filed for bankruptcy in March. REV is planning to buy Modell’s Sporting Goods’ trademarks, domain names, social media assets and the signature “Gotta Go to Mo’s” jingle.
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