January 21, 2014, 10:25 AM

The Mini Social takes a mini break

The flash-sale retailer of products for mom and kids is acquired by video-based shopping site Joyus. Meanwhile, The Mini Social shuts down to re-tool, the latest in a string of declines among small flash-sale e-retailers.

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The Mini Social is not operating today, as the mom and kids’ product flash-sale merchant announced to customers via e-mail late last night that it had been acquired by Joyus, a retailer of fashion, beauty and health products.

“We want to thank you for your loyalty and support over the years,” the e-mail from co-founders Melinda Marinack and Dominique MacPherson read. “You might have noticed that after bringing you the best products for moms and little ones over the past five years, we’ve taken a little break. We are going to take some time to re-tool our offerings and we’ll be back later this year.”

Video-based shopping site Joyus, No. 799 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, will integrate The Mini Social e-mail subscribers into its own list, says Joyus co-founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Joyus declined to comment on financial terms of the deal or elaborate on plans for a possible relaunch of The Mini Social.

Launched in 2008, The Mini Social brought in an Internet Retailer-estimated $3.3 million in online sales in 2012, up nearly 20% from $2.8 million in 2011, according to Top500Guide.com. The merchant is No. 933 in the Second 500 Guide.

Joyus, founded in 2011, secured an estimated $5.8 million in 2012 web revenue—up 190% from $2.0 million in 2011.

The Mini Social’s shuttering is the latest in a string of declines among small to mid-sized retailers with a flash-sale business model. Many of these merchants were growing online sales fast just before they fell.

Totsy.com, for example, a direct competitor of The Mini Social that built its online sales to an estimated $23.4 million in less than four years, went under last summer and was gobbled up by global fashion e-retailer Modnique.com.

Sneakpeeq Inc., a social shopping site and flash-sale merchant of apparel, housewares and food items, made an announcement similar to The Mini Social’s in August 2013 when it told customers it was going “on hiatus” so as to improve its shopping experience. That merchant, which grew its online sales to $18.0 million in two years, is still shut down today, and the same message appears on its e-commerce site.

Fab.com Inc., which grew its 2012 online sales to an Internet Retailer-estimated $150 million after only two years in business, has steadily moved away from the flash-sale model of selling a small selection of items for a short period of time. It has laid off hundreds of employees in the process.

These declines are occurring while some other flash-sale-style e-retailers are showing strong results. Zulily Inc., for example, which operates in the same kids category as Totsy and The Mini Social did, launched an initial public offering of stock in November 2013. By most measures, it was a success, as shares are trading at $42, up from $22 at the launch, and the company is now valued at nearly $10 billion.

Earlier this month, Groupon Inc. bought ideeli Inc., a flash-sale merchant of women’s fashion, for $43 million.

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