The Sharper Image Files for Bankruptcy Protection

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Yipe! I knew The Sharper Image’s products were niche stuff, but I didn’t think sales were this bad. The company filed for bankruptcy protection (as reported by the New York Times) due to slipping sales, stiffer competition, and image problems with its line of Ionic Breeze air purifiers. They’ll also be closing approximately half of their stores, if I read the article correctly.

I have a pretty good idea as to why they’re not doing very well. The problem with The Sharper Image is that their prices for things are a good chunk more than identical (but differently-branded) items elsewhere. For instance, a blue InfoGlobe clock I bought from the Discovery Channel Store was an extra $10-$15 at The Sharper Image, with the only difference being the logo displayed on a small panel above the five buttons on the front. Excessive markups are a bad way to try and increase profits, since the Internet makes it easier than ever to compare prices at different stores before buying anything.

I can’t say I won’t miss the stores (if they close the ones I go to), but they kind of had this coming, and I haven’t bought anything there in years, if ever. They’re still great places to browse interesting and unusual trinkets, though.


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

One Comment:

  1. Jonathan Salem Baskin

    I think you’re right…the stuff they sell looks like (and is about as useless) as similar stuff found in any number of other stores. I also think this speaks to the fact that SI fundamentally misunderstood the drivers of its business (purchasers of the Ionic Breeze were probably ‘need’ driven) and instead bought-off on a brand position that was all about ‘want’ (and thus filled its stores with impulse items, although some quite expensive). Fascinating stuff. I’ve written about it a bit at DIM BULB if you’d like to check it out:

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