The Right Start chain has gone wrong again and again.
It has been in bankruptcy three times since 2003, most famously after it went on an acquisition spree, including the purchase of FAO Schwarz, even changing its name to FAO Inc. But last May, John Malone's Liberty Media bought the chain out of Chapter 11 for about $1.4 million. It then paid off leases at underperforming stores, freshened up the nine stores it decided to keep and brought in new merchandise.
Total investment in the high-end baby retailer is $4 million so far.
The company has started to quietly reopen stores, even though getting consumers to spend $600 on a stroller in this environment might be a tough sell. The company also plans to unveil a completely revamped Web sitein the next week or so, and it promises to honor existing gift cards, which could total $400,000.
Malone brought in Mike Wagner to run the new company.
Wagner is a veteran of the toy business, having run The Parent Company, another firm which didn't survive. The Parent Company was itself an amalgam of several companies, including the ill-fated eToys.com.
It's a tough business, which Wagner is the first to admit.
However, in an exclusive interview, he explains why The Right Start is finally getting the right start, and why John Malone is interested in babies.
First, however, he explains what went wrong under the previous owners.
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