Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Plans for Unique Former Headquarters of Multi-Level Marketing Basket Company
In the age of social media, multi-level marketing companies seem to be more prevalent than ever before. For people of a certain age, it is nearly impossible to scroll through Facebook without seeing at least one friend or acquaintance posting about the cosmetics, essential oils, kitchen gadgets, or dietary supplements that changed their life—and they are offering you the same opportunity! Even better, you can become a consultant/associate/team member as well, and make enough money to quit your day job!
As a business law attorney, I am as skeptical as everyone else is about most multi-level marketing companies, sometimes referred to as pyramid schemes. I also realize that some such companies have enjoyed significant success. Unfortunately, for every direct-to-consumer-model company that stands the test of time—such as Tupperware—there are many others that fade away. Such was the case for The Longaberger Company, which shut down operations last year, but the basket company will not soon be forgotten. It seems that Longaberger’s iconic headquarters building is destined for a new life as a luxury hotel.
Weaving the Longaberger Story
The Longaberger Company began selling handwoven baskets in 1978 at home shows using a direct-to-consumer sales model now known as multi-level marketing. The company’s signature products were handmade baskets that were signed and dated by the individual who made them. Over the next two decades, demand for the trendy baskets steadily increased, and the number of Longaberger “home consultants” grew to about 45,000.
In 1997, the company made headlines when it opened a new headquarters building in Newark, Ohio, about 35 miles northeast of Columbus. The seven-story building was modeled to look like a Longaberger Medium Market Basket, complete with handles and gold-leaf tags on two sides. Reportedly, the handles of the “Big Basket” even contain heating ducts to help prevent ice damage during Ohio winter.
Longaberger’s popularity peaked around 2000 when the company’s sales were estimated at about $1 billion. By 2012, annual sales had dropped to just $100 million. As the company downsized, the Big Basket was vacated in 2016. Longaberger was reportedly behind on property taxes at the time. The building was sold in 2017 to a group led by Ohio businessman Steve Coon. Coon and his partners paid just $1.2 million for the building—a fraction of the Big Basket’s original $30 million price tag.
New Plans for the Big Basket
This week, Coon and several business associates announced that the Big Basket “will stay a basket. It’s going to be a basket forever.” Instead of housing corporate offices, however, the basket is slated to become a luxury hotel with 150 rooms, an indoor pool, and a restaurant. The group is hopeful that the uniqueness of the building will draw business in the form of weddings and conferences. The hotel is expected to be open for business sometime in 2020.
Contact a DuPage County Business Attorney
If you have been approached by a friend or family member about joining a multi-level marketing company, an experienced Naperville business lawyer can help you understand the risks involved. Call the Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 to discuss your situation and to get the guidance you need today. We will work hard to ensure that your best interests are fully protected.