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Economy & Business

Mail Order Maven Lillian Vernon Dies At 88

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The longtime queen of catalog sales has died in Manhattan. Lillian Vernon was 88 years old. Her catalogs - and there were many, many of them - offered personalized gadgets and household items. You could monogram a coffee cup, a garment bag, a doormat, a potholder, a purse, whatever. And you still can. Her company still exists under different ownership. Lillian Vernon ran it for over a half-century.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

As a girl in the late 1930s, Lillian Vernon fled Nazi Germany with her family. It was only a little over a decade later, after settling in the U.S., that she started her company at her kitchen table. She made a niche at a time when few companies reached consumers through catalogs. And her instincts about her customers took her from a 1950s housewife to a multimillion-dollar business leader. Lillian Vernon became the first female-owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.