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Lillian Vernon: Unpacking the Lessons From a Mail-Order Queen

In Business Blunder, Intelligent Fanatic by Sean Iddings0 Comments

Sometimes its better to get out of an industry. In Brilliant Pivot & Patience I wrote about Edwin Wegman’s pivot from novelty mail order business to a bio-pharmaceutical success. On the flip side, Lillian Vernon built a mail order business from scratch and doubled down on her niche, monogrammed goods, and expanded into other hard to get trinkets. She’d focus on …

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Billion Dollars To Bust: Health & Tennis Corp. Of America

In Business Blunder, Intelligent Fanatic by Sean Iddings1 Comment

Have you watched Shark Tank recently? An 83 year-old, who looked 50, along with a younger partner were pitching a new glove for snowboarding. That wasn’t the most interesting part. The older fellow, named Donahue “Don” Wildman, said he built and sold a multi-billion dollar revenue business. He did. That company was Health & Tennis Corporation of America. Don and …

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The Birth & Death Of A Consumer Franchise: Waldbaum’s

In Business Blunder, Intelligent Fanatic by Sean Iddings0 Comments

Readers who grew up in the boroughs of New York City or in some areas of New England, prior to the mid 1980s, might be somewhat familiar with our next case. Waldbaum’s was a supermarket chain that started from humble beginnings and grew to dominate their markets. The story behind the company is extremely interesting for numerous reasons. Namely, the founder …

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Business Blunder: Pancake Flipper Al Lapin Jr. & International Industries (IHOP)

In Business Blunder by Sean Iddings0 Comments

The year was 1958. Former TV-motion picture specialist for the government turned entrepreneur, Al Lapin Jr., started a small pancake shop in downtown Los Angeles. Flipping flap jacks himself, he turned International House of Pancakes into a success from scratch. A year after opening International House of Pancakes, he began franchising the brand. By 1961, the company had eight owned …