In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Kicking off on Sept. 11, 2001, Online Stores Inc. has since expanded from a strong business in selling U.S. flags to additional niches in tea, safety equipment and gifts.
Launched on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was based out of Lisa and Kevin Hickey’s home on their own custom-made e-commerce platform, United-States-Flag.com received 50,000 hits a day during its first week of operation, Kevin Hickey, vice president of marketing, tells InternetRetailer.com. The Hickeys have since rebuilt their business on the Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform while growing at about 50% annually, and now project to reach $13 million this year on four niche sites, including EnglishTeaStore.com, DiscountSafetyGear.com and 1GiftIdea.com.
The sale of U.S. flags continues to be the retailer’s strongest line of business, accounting for about 65% of total sales, Hickey says. But United-States-Flag.com is also growing with products including flagpoles, desktop flags and Canadian flags, and Online Stores is also expanding its other niche markets, he adds. It expects to expand the number of gifts available on 1GiftIdea.com to 5,000 from about 400 within a year, and it’s planning to soon launch a fifth site focusing on baby products.
Online Stores buys products directly from suppliers overseas including about 20 in China, as well as in the U.S.
The Yahoo Stores platform has been steady and reliable, and has been particularly helpful in generating traffic from Yahoo itself and in keeping the Online Stores sites indexed for Internet search engines, Hickey says. “We expect to get at least another year on Yahoo,” he says.