The Paragon is Back in Business

Oct 31, 2008 9:40 PM  By

Nearly a year after parent company BlueSky Brands shut its doors, one of its larger titles–The Paragon gifts catalog–is making a comeback.

Multititle gardening mailer Gardens Alive, which bought BlueSky’s games catalog Bits and Pieces in May, restarted The Paragon Website in late October. The company plans to relaunch the print catalog in January, according to Steve Rowley, who was CEO of The Paragon from 1998 to 2005.

The Paragon’s merchandise and operations equipment stored at its former Westerly, RI, distribution center were scheduled to be sold at auction this past June, says Rowley, now a semi-retired marketing consultant. But the auction was cancelled when Gardens Alive had agreed to purchase all the items, plus the intellectual property and rights of The Paragon.

Knowing that the facility and equipment were sitting idle, Rowley convinced Gardens Alive founder/CEO Niles Kinerk to lease the space and reopen the plant. (BlueSky Brands management had sold the building for $3.45 million in August 2007 and was leasing space there.) “Here we had 180 of my former employees who already knew how to use this equipment, and [Gardens Alive] had a need for warehouse space and additional fulfillment staff,” Rowley says.

Kinerk could not be reached for comment by press time, but he evidently agreed: About a dozen former employees were hired back to handle shipments of Bits and Pieces merchandise housed at the DC, Rowley says.

As Gardens Alive looks to purchase additional nongardening titles, the Westerly DC will take on the fulfillment. Rowley hopes that means all 180 employees who had worked in the warehouse will eventually be hired back.

Gardens Alive includes its namesake title as well as the Breck’s, Gurney Seeds, Henry Field’s, Michigan Bulb and Spring Hill Nurseries horticultural catalogs. The Lawrenceburg, IN-based company acquired several of these titles from defunct mailer Foster & Gallagher in 2001.

In addition to Paragon and Bits and Pieces, BlueSky Brands included the Bits and Pieces U.K., National Wildlife Direct, and Winterthur catalogs. BlueSky, which shut down on March 14, also owned third-party fulfillment provider AB&C Group, which filed for Chapter 7 in April.