From Small Business To Big Business: Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc.

When people think of Eddie Bauer they think of clothes that are trendy and hip. What they don’t realize is the fact that Eddie Bauer is actually a company that is now eighty-eight years old. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. Eddie Bauer was formed in 1920 as Eddie Bauer’s Sports Shop in Seattle, Washington. Eddie Bauer the company’s namesake early on focused on apparel for sports and winter clothes. He actually invented the first down parka in 1936. The company even manufactured more than 50,000 B-9 flight parkas for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

For much of its early history Eddie Bauer focused on the sports and winter apparel segments of the clothing industry. Their clothes would be used to outfit everything from K-2 climbing expeditions to treks across Antarctica.

In 1968 though things would change. That was the year that Eddie Bauer would sell the company to his long time friend and partner William Niemi and his son. That was also the year that the company would open its first store outside of Seattle with San Francisco being chosen as the location.

Under William Niemi the company would also shift its focus. Going from outdoor gear to a broader offering that would feature lifestyle apparel. This would help give the company a broader appeal to consumers.

In 1971 the company was again sold, this time to General Mills. With this stronger backing the company would expand to 61 stores and $250 million in sales by 1988. In 1988 the company was again sold this time to the Spiegel catalog company. They continued the focus on aggressively expanding the company.

Over the next eight years the company would expand to over 300 stores. In addition to expanding their apparel stores the Eddie Bauer name could be found on a number of other items over the years. Everything from cars and trucks through its partnership with Ford Motors to a line of furniture in Eddie Bauer Home.

During the 1990’s Eddie Bauer would also begin international expansion with stores opening in JapanFree Articles, and Germany. In 1996 the company would launch its official website to help it serve customers all over the globe. By 1998 the Eddie Bauer name would be featured on over 600 different stores representing apparel and furniture.

In 2005 Spiegel the owner of Eddie Bauer filed for bankruptcy protection. After selling off all the other assets of the company only the Eddie Bauer portion of the company remained. The company renamed itself Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. and was able to emerge from bankruptcy protection. And just like its namesake who was an avid adventurer the company fights on. Showing that even after eighty-eight years their spirit is still alive and well.

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