Shari’s Berries Owner Launches Anew

Dec 14, 2006 2:24 AM  By

Shari Fitzpatrick’s empire of chocolate-covered berries has grown. Sort of.

Fitzpatrick, who founded Sacramento, CA-based cataloger/retailer Shari’s Berries in 1989, launched another online store, the Berry Factory, in November.

Which means that Fitzpatrick will in a way be competing against herself in cyberspace. While Fitzpatrick still owns the four Shari’s Berries brick-and-mortar stores, all in Sacramento, she licensed her name and products in 1998 to Shari’s Berries International to allow the product to be sold nationwide via catalogs and the Web. That company was sold in August to San Diego-based Provide Commerce, which owns ProFlowers, Cherry Moon Farms, and other food and gift merchants.

Though terms of the Shari’s Berries International-Provide Commerce deal were not disclosed, Fitzpatrick retains the rights to not just the four stores but also all online and catalog sales within the Sacramento region. It also allows her to produce and sell the product line out of her stores as well as her newly concocted Berry Factory confections.

“It’s a unique deal because I’m still Shari’s Berries, and I’m not trying to disparage that company,” Fitzpatrick says. “The idea is to run the Berry Factory parallel to Shari’s Berries.”

Fitzpatrick says the Berry Factory’s channel focus is on e-commerce, store-within-a-store partnerships (a partnership with Jelly Belly’s stores is being negotiated), trade shows, and for name-recognition purposes, stand-alone stores in high-traffic locations. She plans to eventually produce a direct-to-consumer catalog as well. There is already a mini-catalog, without prices, that is included in outbound packages to drive consumers to the Website. The Berry Factory also recently sent postcards to introduce the company to 30,000 customers retained in the sale to ProFlowers.

“The exciting growth of Shari’s Berries has been incredible, and now I want to rediscover that entrepreneurial excitement through The Berry Factory,” says Fitzpatrick. “After the sale of Shari’s Berries International, I feel now is the right time and the right place for me to focus, and expand my business in additional fun and creative directions.”