Sharper Image Massage Chair, $1,599

Sharper Image Massage Chair, $1,599


Many brands have, and will continue, to, ‘fold up’ and go away due to the ever-rising waters of the economic tsunami; they’re just not relevant any longer: Sharper Image, gone; Circut City, zapped; Polaroid, shuttered; Linens ‘n Things, folded; Fortunoff, no more; Bombay & Co., ditto.

Or, maybe not.

Yes, their retail stores have disppeared, and in many instances they’ve gone Chapter 7, i.e., liquidation. Enter the “asset recovery specialists.”  Now, I don’t mean the guys who buy all the face towels left at Linens and sell them for you to buy on your next foray to the local Dollar Store, but the guys who buy the brands, and often solely the brands – vapor – for millions.

These “brand licensing experts”, or “vultures”, depending on your choice of venacular, recieve royalties for having their newly acquired brands slapped onto unbranded products without the need to pay rent, staff, and all other expenses that come along with a brand’s company. With the equity of the brand already having been established, these guys reap the remaining rewards associated with linking the brand to private labeled products, happily supplied by manufacturers willing to sell their generic wares to anyone willing pay for a wholesale-sized order. 

The only snag is that now the cart is now in front of the horse.  By this I mean that once upon a time, a product proved itself through the experiences associated with its use & consumption. The brand associated with the said product thus gained a certial degree to equity. Now, with the equity established, these marketers promote a brand’s ‘promise’ even though it is an entirely different product/line, and therefore, likely different associative consumption/use experienced. Kinda’ a bait ‘n switch… Now you might say, it dosen’t matter with dish towels, but I disagree. It’s deeper than that and too much to rant on for this post. But at least you get my drift.

It will be interesting to see how this business model will play out even further as the 2009 aftershocks further shake (larger) rotten fruit from our golden tree of prosperity – quick, turn on CNN, what’s up with the Dow!?