The Success of the Lillian Vernon Corp


It all began with black and white in 1951. Today, nearly
45 years later, the mail order business of Lillian Vernon
has swept the mail order market and maintained a financial
foothold where others could not. Lillian Hochberg (now
known as Lillian Vernon) started her business at her
 Lillian's motivation was to supplement her husband's then
$150 dollar a week income by working from her home. She
could be homemaker and help with the finances too. Her
success started by using $495 dollars of wedding gift money
to place an mail order add in Seventeen magazine selling an
inexpensive leather belt with matching purse that she
herself had designed. As a hook, she offered to moaker in
the Chelsea district of New York, manufactured the two
items for around $3 dollars. The purse and belt came in
black, tan, or red and sold for $7 dollars.(Youman, N,
1989, pg 26) After 6 weeks of advertising Lillian had
received over $16 thousand dollars in mail orders. Her belt
and purse were such a hit, she immediately increased her
inventory to inexpensive jewelry and make-up paraphernalia.
Over the past 45 years, Lillian has had two sons, Fred and
David Hochberg, both of whom joined their mothers business
and quickly rose up through the management ranks. With
their help, her -little business+ went public in 1987 on
the American Stock Exchange. Since the Lillian Vernon
Corporation. went public, it has overcome the unavoidable
but near fatal traumas that face every entrepreneurial
enterprise. In this case, inadequate computing capacity and
inefficient warehome the customer places the order to the
time they receive the merchandise in the mail. Lillian
Vernon has not relied on demographics to sell her products
to the public. Instead, her secret to success lies in
womens intuition. The lean seat-of-the-pants operation she
prefers makes her company tremendously agile. For example,
in 1985, Lillian spied the cacooning trend and immediately
put a furniture specialty catalog together. She got the
trend right but the bulky orders overwhelmed the company+s
fulfillment capability. (Youman, N. 1989, pg 26). In 1993,
when Sears announced that after many years it will cease
publication of its giant catalog, known as the -wish-book,+
a very long ch During the time when the mail order giants
were cutting back, the Lillian Vernon Corporation. reviewed
their catalog databases to clear out customers who had not
ordered in quite some time. During their review, they found
that many of the active customers were buying presents for
children and grandchildren. This caused the corporation to
create its first niche book called -Lilly+s kids.+ Lilly+s
Kids does $30 million in sales of toys and school
equipment. (Lightman, 1996, pg 1) Now, Lillian Vernon has
targeted 1. Make time for yourself and your family.
2. Surround yourself with the best people possible. 3. Be
open to new ideas and better ways of doing things. 4. Be
prepared to take risks. 5. Like what you do and like what
you sell. 6. Don+t dwell on your mistakes or setbacks, but
instead learn from them and move on. Never let mistakes
defeat or discourage you. 7. Don+t try to do it
all----Delegate! 8. Don+t grow too fast without the proper
systems and people in place to handle it. 9. Don+t be
afraid 10. Don't spend more money than you have-- set
realistic budgets and stick to them. Keep your debts
manageable. (Lightman, 1996, pg 2) Finally, in todays fast
paced society, it is easy to see how a company like the
Lillian Vernon Corporation could appeal to the overworked
consumer. This type of company provides an easy affordable
way for those consumers to gift shop without derailing them
from their hurried everyday lives. I suspect that the
Lillian Vernon Corporation will stand head and shoulders
above its competitors long into the 21st century.
Coleman, L. -I went out and did it.+ (Iowa: Forbes, August
 17, 1992) 150:102(2).
Lightman, A. Lillian Vernon Home Page
 ( #business,
1996) Mason, J. Lillian Vernon Focuses on Cusomers. (New
York: Management Review, May, 1993) 82:22(3). Youman, N.
The Queen of Kitsch. (New York: Adweek+s Marketing Week,
April 24, 1989) 30:22(4).
The Research Process Researching my topic started through
the World Wide Web (WWW) utilizing the software -Netscape+.
I originally found the Lillian Vernon home page and several
items from her catalogs. I then accessed the University of
Maryland University College+s VICTOR (an online library
catalog that allows the student to search databases of the
University of Maryland and its associated colleges.) I
accessed VICTOR through the University of Maryland+s Home
page on the World Wide Web. After ac With the printed
data, I went back into the main VICTOR menu and did a title
search for folios that contained articles on my subject.
The lists that I generated provided titles with two types
of index numbers; titles by date and titles by serial
number. Dated titles were books and serialed titles were
folios. I quickly located the folio titles and physically
located them within the library using the assigned call
number. I spent approximately 6 hours at the Mckeldin
Library researching my subject. Out of 15 reference
candidates, I found 6 for my paper using only 4 in the
final revision. 

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