Accessories

Vera Bradley Sells its GoodMrkt Start-up – WWD


Vera Bradley Inc. has sold its 16-month-old goodMrkt retail format, which is for socially and cause-driven brands, to Harry Cunningham.

Cunningham is cofounder and chief brand officer of goodMrkt, and former vice president of retail brand experience at Vera Bradley. He’s also managing partner of goodMrkt Holdings LLC, through which the transaction occurred. He joined Vera Bradley in 2014 as head of store development after spending 25 years in store design and visual merchandising at Saks Fifth Avenue, Liz Claiborne and Dillard’s.

GoodMrkt Holdings operates one goodMRKT retail store in Fort Wayne, Ind., along with its agoodmrkt.com e-commerce site. Mary Beth Trypus, Vera Bradley’s chief revenue officer, is the other cofounder of goodMrkt.

“This announcement coincides with our board of directors’ decision to focus on the growth of our two core brands — Vera Bradley and Pura Vida,” Rob Wallstrom, the outgoing president and chief executive officer of Vera Bradley, said in a statement.

Vera Bradley announced last month that Wallstrom will retire and a successor is expected to be named in the beginning of 2023. Wallstrom, who has led Vera Bradley since 2013, will stick with the company until then and is working with the board of directors on the search.

Cunningham characterized goodMrkt as “a community of purpose-driven brands with makers and creators who confront the challenges of the world and create change around the globe.…We’re excited about the possibility of bringing the concept to other cities around the country over time . And, we are always on the lookout to add new vendor partners to the mix.” He declined to reveal how much he paid for goodMrkt.

Harry Cunningham

About 60 brands are offered, including Able, Bel Kai, Farmhouse Fresh, MudLove, Musee, New Hope Girls, Ranger Station, Sackcloth & Ashes, Two Blind Brothers, Utopian Coffee, Village Thrive, Whole Harmony and Zestt. The store also has a café.

Through their donations, percent of proceeds or how the products are manufactured and sourced, all of the brands support women’s empowerment, community development, ending poverty or hunger, environmental stewardship, sustainability, animal rescue or fighting a disease.

Vera Bradley, based in Fort Wayne, designs and sells women’s handbags, luggage and other travel items, fashion and home accessories and gifts. Founded in 1982 by friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, the brand is known for its distinctive patterns and vivid colors.

In July 2019, Vera Bradley acquired a 75 percent interest in Pura Vida, an online retailer of handmade bracelets, anklets, stackable rings and other items supporting artisans in Costa Rica, effectively bringing Vera Bradley into the jewelry business.

For the quarter ended April 30, the company reported a net loss of $7 million, compared to a year-ago net loss of $2.1 million, but said the balance sheet was strong with $64 million in cash and cash equivalents and no debt. Consolidated net revenues totaled $98.5 million compared to $109.1 million in the prior year first quarter.

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