March 27, 2014 — -- intro: Gadget-hawking specialty retailer Brookstone Inc. is reportedly preparing to file for bankruptcy as it battles sagging sales and high levels of debt.
The company could be purchased by Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc., which owns Spirit costume stores and online gift store Spencer's, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to unnamed sources, Spencer Spirit Holdings could pay around $120 million for Brookstone, which has about $140 million in debt, the Journal said.
Brookstone, based in Merrimack, N.H., and Spencer Spirit, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., did not respond to requests for comment.
The privately-owned Brookstone operates about 290 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the firm says on its website.
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Brookstone started advertising in Popular Mechanics Magazine in 1965, selling "hard-to-find tools," the company said on its website. After its catalog expanded, the company opened its first retail store in Peterborough, N.H., in 1973.
Today, the company is known for its quirky and practical gadgets and lifestyle products. Here are some of the wackiest Brookstone products through the years.
Share your favorite or most memorable Brookstone products in the comments.
quicklist: title: Pillow Remote Controlmedia: 23083628category:text: It's out of stock on Brookstone's website, but this pillow with "easy-to-click fabric buttons" lives on through sites such as Amazon for about $25. Brookstone describes it as a "built-in universal remote for up to 6 home theater systems" that is "programmed to recognize more than 500 kinds of devices."
quicklist: title: LELO Yva Personal Massagermedia: 23083685category:text:This personal massager comes in 18k gold plating. Though it's out of stock on Brookstone's website, the manufacturer's website, Lelo.com, indicates that the vibrator retails for $3,900. The stainless-steel version is $2,890. Brookstone's product description says, "Five vibration modes give you a choice of massage intensity, from soft flutter to deep pulse."
quicklist: title: Sand by Brookstonemedia: 23083435category: $14.99 text: "Packable, stretchable" sand by Brookstone is described as 98 percent sand, 2 percent polymer, and "100 percent FUN."
quicklist: title: HAPIfork Bluetooth-Enabled Smart Forkmedia: 23083546category: $99text:This "smart fork" was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show back in Jan. 2013 and is sold by Brookstone for $99. Here's what ABCNews.com said about the fork back in October:
Called the Hapifork, the fork has a small computer inside that records your eating patterns and vibrates when you eat too fast. For instance, if you take two bites within less than 10 seconds it will gently vibrate to tell you to slow down. With Bluetooth inside, it pairs with your smartphone so you can adjust the vibration settings and see more detailed information about how fast you are eating. The app and website also lets you track what you are eating.
quicklist: title: Bluetooth Wireless Roll-Up Keyboard for iPadmedia: 23083743category: $59.99text:
Described as a "super-slim, flexible silicone" keyboard that rolls up for storage or travel, this "water-resistant" gadget was first introduced years ago for $59.99, but is out of stock online. The product description says it pairs wirelessly with your Bluetooth-enabled iPad tablet, iPod, iPhone, laptops and other devices, weighing just 0.3 lbs.