The Popcorn Factory Sold to

Gifts marketer first set its sights on The Popcorn Factory in 1999. Three years later, it finally acquired the $30 million food gifts cataloger. Westbury, NY-based 1-800-Flowers bought the title in May from New York-based private investment firm Wand Partners for $12.2 million in cash and stock.

The Popcorn Factory will retain its Lake Forest, IL, headquarters, keeping Kent Arett as president and Cheryl Zatz as director of marketing. The $489.2 million 1-800-Flowers’ other catalogs include Plow & Hearth, Magic Cabin Dolls, and HearthSong.

“This is wonderful for us because it fits in so well,” says Peter Rice, president of Madison, VA-based Plow & Hearth and an executive committee member of 1-800-Flowers. For one thing, the deal will expand 1-800-Flowers’ product line of food gifts and gift baskets. At the same time, Rice says, “we’ll be using our collective databases to find more qualified names for The Popcorn Factory.” 1-800-Flowers has about 10 million names in its database, while The Popcorn Factory’s database has more than 1 million names, including a growing list of corporate accounts.

Wand Partners had bought The Popcorn Factory from now-defunct multititle mailer Foster & Gallagher in July 1999. Although 1-800-Flowers was interested in the property, it was in a “quiet period,” having filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public, and therefore could not consummate a deal. Wand Partners still owns multititle gifts mailer The Paragon, whose catalogs include Practica and Bits & Pieces. Wand did not return calls by press time.

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