Richard Thalheimer is founder and former CEO of The Sharper Image, San Francisco-based retailer of consumer electronics and lifestyle products.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Thalheimer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a law degree from University of California. After initially practicing law, he started a mail-order business starting with a $69 jogger’s watch. In 1977, he established The Sharper Image with three employees.
Thalheimer built a fortune purveying cool-but-unnecessary luxury items to hordes of the upwardly mobile first through a blockbuster catalog and then in American shopping malls. The Sharper Image came to personify the technologically innovative, the new, and the cool.
When Thalheimer was forced out in 2006, The Sharper Image had more than 195 stores, 4,000 employees, and a thriving catalog- and internet-business. At its peak, the company had annual revenues of $750 million. In 2007, Thalheimer launched RichardSolo.com, an Internet store of interesting and new products.
People expect a certain reaction from a business and when you pleasantly exceed those expectations, you’ve somehow passed an important psychological threshold.