Madrona’s Glassybaby has moved beyond the Emerald City to the Big Apple. It’s a big jump, and this New York Times article covers some of the challenges it has faced.
In the last few years, the company has been on a steep trajectory. In 2009, sales increased 25 percent, and Glassybaby caught the eye of Jeffrey Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com — also located in Seattle — who bought 20 percent of the company. In 2010, Glassybaby sales increased 50 percent. Ms. Rhodes says she has given away more than $600,000 to charity.
With the success of Glassybaby in Seattle and the infusion of cash from Mr. Bezos, Ms. Rhodes decided in 2009 to expand to a new location. She quickly concluded that the country’s biggest market offered the best opportunity — despite the inevitable competition of other specialty stores.
In Manhattan, Ms. Rhodes believed she would be able to sell to millions of apartment dwellers in homes ranging from small studio apartments all the way up to multimillion-dollar condos. The city also had strong philanthropic traditions, so there would be plenty of nonprofit partners to work with, and she felt the story of her work as a cancer survivor creating something to help others would resonate.
The final factor in the expansion was the poor economy. At the time, Ms. Rhodes said, few other retailers were expanding into the city. She said she believed that New Yorkers still liked discovering new things — but there were not as many new things happening because of the recession.