January 23, 2009

Full Stop? Right Start To Close, Taking BabyStyle & Tiny Ride With It

I have to give babystyle credit, they were a trendsetter, even when it came to going out of business.

The blog StrollerInfo.com has posted a suspiciously detailed "anonymous tip" reporting that this morning the baby gear retailer Right Start--which bought babystyle out of bankruptcy last summer, along with the online retailer Tiny Ride--is closing for good.

Right Start reportedly "told its corporate employees that they are being laid off. All but the COO, Logistics Manager, Human Resources and IT.

"All of the area and regional managers are being laid off.

"The entire Babystyle corporate office, and Blue Lava [the holding company for Tiny Ride]."

I tried calling Right Start to see if the rumor is true, but could never get through. So I called the store near my mother-in-law to see if they were closing.

"In fact, my district manager's here right now. Do you want to ask her?"

"Uh, sure."

"Hi, this is ____. Can I help you?"

"Is Right Start closing? Because I read online that it is."

"It's interesting that you read it online."

"So are you closing? Or are you staying open?"

"Well, I can tell you we're open right now, so come on over!"

So there you have it. Blogger journalism 101. Not solid enough to trade stocks with, but probably useful for deciding which gift cards to use up first.

31 Comments

You know, this really irked me, and I still have no idea what happened. BUT- on January 18th, I placed a large order from babystyle.com and even received a confirmation. After several days, I looked up to see why I had no tracking info- nope the website was down and the phone was disconnected. I never was charged for the items, but how difficult would it have been to tell me that they were closing. Grrr.

If anybody is taking anyone down, it's Babystyle taking the others down. Have you been in that store? It is so expensive, it's ridiculous. And their locations? Talk about pricey. I own a franchise chain business and have looked at some of the malls Babystyles happen to be in (coincidence, I wasn't looking for that store.) The profit I would have had to have pulled is almost double of my other locations to just cut the same margin. Right Start isn't cheap, but it's at least got some good deals.

I redeemed my SuperCertificate for a babystyle.com e gift certificate on January 19th and just saw that the babystyle website notice changed from being under construction so simply being closed and will be not be completing any more orders, etc. I called babystyle many times and can't get through as well. SuperCertificates.com is looking into it - what a mess! It was a $50 gift certificate which, with twins, I could really use!!!! I couldn't go to the store and use it if I wanted to.

As a former babystyle employee and customer, this whole situation is just terrible.

On the side of the customers, it pains me that so many loyal and kind customers are being left out in the cold, especially when so many of them chose to bring their business to babystyle as they expanded their families.

On the side of the employees, any stores that have closed thus far had less than 1 weeks notice, and you have to admit, that's rough.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to corporate leadership and stratigic business decisions, and regardless of we think should take the blame, Right Start owns and operates babystyle and tiny ride, and is the calling the shots.

My best advice would be to call your local babystyle stores to see if they're on a closing sale, because it will all go fast...you might as well get something good out of a bad situation.

does anyone if any of the stores are open right now?

I have to agree with the former employee my sister was a manager at babystyle for a while and said that after the company was purchased by right start the management that came from right start was horrible. They wanted to change babystyle and they just killed the style the company had. She also said that the management at right start corporate was really bad. they just did not know what they were doing and seemed to be uncertain about how to run a fashion company. the catalogs at right start were awful and babystyle always had a great look. just sad because my sister lost her job and now the best baby store in NJ is closed. all because of bad management and poor decisions

My wife heard from her friend that our babystyle was closing. They were packing things up in trash bags! She asked them and they said that they were going to be there Friday and Saturday and that was it. I was at work and had the car that day that had our car seat because our other car wouldn't start. So after work we went there (arrived around 6:30) and they had a bag that was wrote on that said "Store closed forever". We were pissed because we have a $75 gift card! and no news to say we should use it!!!! We are stuck now and the manager was a real jerk and wouldn't give us any phone numbers or emails so that we could call corporate or any other stores to use the gift card or get back our money! Can anybody help us! Please! if it was like 20 -30 bucks we could be like oh well, but $75 is a ton of money to lose when we have no extra month to month after bills. Thank you for any info you may have!

Joey - considering that baby style had blown through $175 million in venture funding and gone to bankruptcy before right start bought them, perhaps a bit of change would have been good.

I had dinner last night with someone who worked for right start and she feels that baby style dragged right start down. She talked about expensive staff, large fancy office space and high spending ways. She also said that the right start ceo, Kenton van something or other, was simply absent. Apparently he left execs from baby style and right start to bicker over how to merge and so nothing happened - except for running out of operating cash. Sounded like a clash of cultures and no leadership that was bound to fail.

I'm sure there were faults and mis-steps and bad strategies and bad integration efforts all around. And babystyle was coming out of bankruptcy, while Right Start had been through turmoil and major reorganizations a few years ago.

But remember that all this happened in the midst of a serious downturn in the retail economy, and Right Start/babystyle is just one of many store closings this year. And it's only January. Companies with management or other issues are more vulnerable, but this recession is going to take down some once healthy-seeming companies, too.

well said greg...former employee here

things like this often end ugly, but a lot of companies are finding themselves in the same boat, with thousands now out of work. let's all hope things turn around for everyone.

sorry to be all "can't we all just get along" about the whole thing...i know there are a lot of frustrated customers out there...good luck to all.

I have been a customer at Babystyle strictly for their clearance items (could not ever fathom buying full price no matter how cute)and I would check out the website daily to scope out if any items I had my eye on had gone on sale, then I would go buy it in person from the store. That's how I found out they were "suspending operation of the website" (=going out of business) which leads me to my next worry. My daughter did a photo shoot for them late in 08' and has still not been paid. I feel terrible for anyone who is being faced with unemployment, especially at this time, but I am extremely curious if this "work" will go down with all of the other debts the company owes.

I loved babystyle! When items were on sale you got a great deal. I hope Land of Nod and other cool sites stay in business. This is a huge disapointment.

When I saw that their website was shut down, I ran over to the Babystyle in Newport Beach. Thankfully, it is still open because I had a $300 merchandise credit.

Just updating my comment about my daughter's unpaid work, well I just received a letter stating that eStyle/ Babystyle filed for bankruptcy payment for any work done for them last year will be on hold "indefinately". This is terrible because it was a LONG hard day for these babies and toddlers and their moms and dads! Not to mention the sweet girls that worked in my regular store who up until a week and a half ago had NO clue about the company's financial problems. I felt bad filling them in on what I learned on the internet!

Anyone know where the merchandise is going? Can I buy it at a discount somewhere?

Were you able to use your merchandise credit? I read on the website (fine prints) that they're not accepting merchandise credits or gift cards. I have over $150 merchandise credit too. Thanks for any info/tips you can provide.

I have $60 in merchandise credit too. Any word on how I can get my money back?

Hi. I got the rightstart.com e-mail today and decided to check the sale and noticed over 1000 items in the sale part. My husband, son, and I took a trip to the store and nearly everything was 40% off or more. I couldn't get a straight answer out of the employees if they were closing or not. Frustrating!

Hey Greg, It's been a while since I've commented, but Chad and I have had a crazy several months. We lost a pregnancy, then got pregnant again, then lost that pregnancy - and now I am pregnant once again. We're a little gun-shy by this point, but things appear to be going better than in the previous two efforts.

We're woefully behind on the news. We just found out today that Right Start was going under. Chad and I stopped in the location in Annapolis, to find a massive clearance extravaganza, accompanied by unobtrusive signs informing customers that giftcards could not be accepted, due to the store filing chapter 11. On the bright side, we scored a maxi-cosi mico for $80!

Take care!

I am a supplier for Right Start and one time BabyStyle. Let me just say that BabyStyle was always up to date with trends and their staff was professional in every way. We have been supplying to Right Start for almost 10 years....and they have always been a pain to deal with. unprofessional staff, bad organization, bullying and with-holding money for goods. In the industry circuit, all their buyers would go to trade shows and take bribes in the form of samples/sampling. The infant buyer was pregnant at the last ABC Kids Expo and drove home with a van of free stuff. Including a $2700 crib, two $900.00 strollers, endless freebies. How ironic that all these came from companies that were also supplying to them. We never had anything of interest to their buyers personally, thank goodness. So we escaped the tackless behavior. Their CEO would hold out on payment unless credit for some rediculous marketing fund was being credited to them. We just got a notice today that they are in bankrupcy court and filed chapter 11. Everyone in the business knows exactly why the failed. Their buyers were short of being thugs....thugs in trendy mommy gear.

If Right Start was having anymore offsites, "thugs in trendy mommy gear" would make a great t-shirt.

Stephanie..
We are also in the baby industry and curious what supplier you are ? email me at lisapalmer05@yahoo.com if you would!
Thanks!

Thanks for the info. we had some problems with Right Start in the past and totally agree with you. We use to sell to them and they cut us off when we started selling to other retailers in their area. Funny, "Thugs in Trendy Mommy Gear", it would make a good tee.

Come on, I wouldn't give up my company name either. Alot of us still have payment outstanding and need the money from the bankrupcy. If we ever see it. That's a big if.

Jen, its not that the employyes are with holding information or do not want to give you a stright answer but becuase they are as unaware of what is going on with the company as everybody else. I recently visited a store and they had informed me that they had less then a full weeks notice that the store was closing and do not get up dates from corporate daily but on a need to know basis. If you have a any type of credit with them, go to the website under customer service and file the claims form hopefully you will get some type of refund.

I just loved tinyride.com, it sucks that they're gone. I got some fabulous deals on strollers. It's a shame that you can't find another site out there with the same deals.

I had gotten a 2008 BOB Revolution Duallie from them for $430 in October 2008. I saved well over $100 and got free shipping. All the sites out there now want $569 or better for the same model!

Hi,
Great news, Right Start's website is back up and running and they are getting more merchandise in daily. They are accepting gift cards as well. www.RightStart.com

If we are talking about the same babystyle, they seem to be going from strength to strength over here in the UK with a range of new pushchairs.

Im thinking of buying the Babystyle Oyster Stroller stroller which is their new very trendy one......

But, if there is a danger they are going belly up ill hold off in buying as i dont want to be with a stroller that i cant get parts for.

So i suppose my question is are the Babystyle you are talking about the same stroller company I am looking at. Have a look at the picture ive put on to confirm?

Kind Regards

Neverbee

completely different company.

Hi,
Right Start is back up online and stores are re-opening.

They closed all but 10 or so stores and are opening them back up slowly. Guess not many were profitable and they've been bought by Liberty Media and are on a path to come back.

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