iVillage-Backed Baby Site Ceases Operations

Adding yet another dot-com shutdown to the ever-growing list, e-tailer Babygear.com has closed shop and filed for bankruptcy liquidation.

A posting on the company’s Web site says that the baby-products store is “unable to take orders,ship orders or issue credits,” and urges customers to contact theircredit card companies to get credit for items not received.

“Any further matters will be handled by the court,” the message continued.

Casualty List

The e-tail sector has been particularly hard hit of late, as Garden.com, Pets.com,Furniture.com and Beautyjungle.com are just a few of the sites that havegone out of business in recent weeks.

In a studyreleased last month, consolidation tracking firm Webmergers found that dot-comcompanies have been shutting down at the rate of about one per day since October 1st.

One-third of the 131 Internet failures so far this year folded in the last seven weeks leading up to the study, Webmergers said. During the first twoweeks of November alone, there were 21 closures.

E-tail Woes

Internet stores targeting consumers are now finding it harder to get funding, as backers want to see evidence of profits before investing. As theholiday season approaches, many e-tailers are finding it even more difficultto make ends meet.

Some companies have closed gradually, laying off staff and leaving a few workers to wind downoperations and fill existing orders. In Babygear’s case, however, customersare left to fend for themselves.

“We understand this experience is frustrating,” the company said in themessage on its Web site. “However, this is all the information we are ableto provide. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope this informationwill help with the transition.”

iVillage Stake

Last summer, online women’s network iVillage sold its baby-products unit to Babygear.com. As part of the deal, iVillage took an undislosed equity stakein Babygear, and signed on to several five-yearsponsorship agreements with the company.

The sale was part of a plan by New York-based iVillage to focus its attention on being an Internet content provider, while staying involved in e-commerce throughsponsorship agreements.

At the time of the acquisition, Preston Bealle, Babygear’s chief executive officer, told the E-Commerce Times that his company was trying to run its site “like a business, not a technology,” and that Babygear.com hopes for longevity.

Babygear customers visiting the company’s site are directed to click on thelogos of three other e-tailers: BabyAge.com, Alight.com and iMaternity.

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