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Home Obituaries Lillian Vernon, Creator of Rye Based Catalog Empire, is Dead

Lillian Vernon, Creator of Rye Based Catalog Empire, is Dead


Lillian Vernon, who created the eponymous catalog company, is dead. For years, Vernon ran the company from a headquarters building off the Playland Access Road in Rye. In 2003, Vernon sold the company to private equity.

From the obituary in the NY Times:

"Lillian Vernon, who created a sprawling catalog business that specialized in personalized gifts and ingenious gadgets and made her an American household name, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 88…

Ms. Vernon, who had come to the United States as a Jewish immigrant from Germany fleeing the Nazis, began her mail-order business in 1951, and it rapidly flourished. At one time it had nine catalogs, 15 outlet stores, two websites, a business-to-business division and yearly revenue close to $300 million.

In 1987, Lillian Vernon was the first company owned by a woman to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed her chairwoman of the National Women’s Business Council…

Her niche was whimsical, low-cost items that could be monogrammed — at no charge — in days rather than weeks…

Lillian vernon

In 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor of Germany, her family fled to Amsterdam; they moved to New York City in 1937. Her brother, Fred, later enlisted in the United States Army and was killed in World War II.

She attended New York University for two years but left to marry Sam Hochberg, whose family owned a dry goods store in Mount Vernon, N.Y. In 1951, newly married and pregnant, she took $2,000 of her wedding money — and part of the name of her town — to start a mail-order business on her yellow Formica kitchen table."

Read the full obit.



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