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Enesco History

Enesco is a designer, manufacturer, and wholesaler of giftware and collectibles. This article describes highlights of their business from inception to the present day.

Early History

Enesco was founded in 1958 as a small import division of the N. Shure Company, a wholesale merchandising catalog company, before reorganizing as a separate company in 1967, when N. Shure was sold to Butler Brothers, a chain of Five and Dime retail outlets. The Enesco company name came from the phonetic spelling of the parent company's initials "N.S.Co.".

Enesco was sold 3 times before being bought by Stanhome Inc. in 1983. Stanhome of Westfield, MA was a pioneer in the direct-sales industry, selling its home care and personal care products through its Famous Stanley Hostess Parties. By the 1990s however, Enesco was more successful and well-known than its parent, producing over half of Stanhome's revenues. This progression led to Stanhome Inc. being renamed to Enesco Group, Inc. in 1998.

Enesco's first overseas operation, Enesco International (Hong Kong) Ltd., was started in 1985. The company added many more overseas subsidiaries since then, including Enesco Imports GmbH, in Germany; N. C. Cameron & Sons, Ltd., in Canada; and Enesco Ltd., in England. In 1988, Stanhome formed the Enesco Worldwide Giftware Group to encompass Enesco Corporation and its affiliated global giftware operations.

Originally based in Chicago, Enesco relocated to two office buildings and a warehouse in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, in 1975. In 1984, after the acquisition by Stanhome, they moved into new buildings, still in Elk Grove Village, including 30,000 square feet of offices, a 455,000 square foot warehouse and a 35,000 square foot international showroom. They relocated their headquarters again in 1995 to Itasca, Illinois leaving their international showroom, warehouse and distribution facility in Elk Grove Village. The Stanhome executive offices were also relocated to Itasca from Westfield in 1998.

Eugene Freedman

It is impossible to go into any further detail of Enesco's history without mentioning Eugene (Gene) Freedman. Enesco owes a great deal of its success to Freedman, who was President and Chief Executive Officer from 1958 to 1998. He also served as Executive Vice-President of parent company Stanhome Inc.

Born in Philadelphia on March 9, 1925, Gene Freedman was raised in Milwaukee, WI. Following his graduation from Whitefish Bay High School in 1942, he studied at Northwestern University and California Institute of Technology, earning a Bachelor of Science degree. He enlisted in the Navy early in World War II, receiving his naval officer's commission at the University of Notre Dame.

Freedman spent almost a decade in the giftware business before he became one of the founders of Enesco, in 1958.

In the mid-1960s, Freedman established two large shows a year for Enesco, the Pre-Show and the Spring Fling. These shows were by invitation only and were intended to showcase Enesco's new product lines for the upcoming season. This concept proved a hugely successful marketing technique and quickly became an industry tradition.

Freedman's greatest contribution arguably came in the late 1970s with the product line that would be the catalyst to Enesco's phenomenal growth over the next decade: the Precious Moments Collection. Freedman played a key role in convincing artist Sam Butcher to turn his work into collectible figurines and establishing the brand as the most successful of all figurine collections.

Freedman and Enesco worked hard to prevent Precious Moments from becoming a short-lived fad. One significant step was the creation of the Precious Moments Collectors' Club in 1981. By the end of the first (charter) year more than 69,000 people had joined the club; by 1994 it had over half a million registered members. The club provided members with a quarterly newsletter and offers of exclusive pieces, which were not generally available. It helped created a level of brand loyalty that maintained and stimulated interest in the collection.

Freedman continued leading the company until 1998 when he stepped down as President. He continued with the company until 2005, with the title "Founding Chairman", staying active in corporate affairs and serving as a company ambassador at industry events. He unfortunately passed away on February 19, 2008 at the age of 82.

Product Lines

Although the Precious Moments Collection was Enesco's most popular line, the company is also responsible for producing and/or distributing several other well-known lines of giftware and collectibles. Some of these product lines were created through license agreements with popular artists and companies, some were proprietary Enesco lines and some were acquired through company acquisitions. There have been, in fact, so many acquisitions, license agreements and other product lines in Enesco's history that it would probably be easier to list the products they have not been involved with.

Here are some of the most popular branded product lines that Enesco have been involved with.
A Breed ApartA Celebration Of Life
A Christmas StoryA Little Behind
A Place To RememberAdventures Of Barney Granger
All That JazzAlpine Village
Amigos Del SolAnne Geddes
Artist GalleryAvian Porcelain
Bamboo ArtBarbie
Beatrix PotterBelsnickle
Bible GearBilston & Battersea Enamels
Bless Your HeartBorder Fine Arts
The Boyds CollectionBoys Will Be Boys
BudweiserBugs & Bees
Bunny LittleCalico Kittens
Centimental BearsChapeau Noelle
Charming TailsCherished Teddies
Children Of The Inner LightChristmas Cards Cardinals Of Christmas
Christmas In The CityChristmas Treasures
Circle Of LoveClassical Garden And Butterflies
Coca-ColaCongo Kids
Coral KingdomCountry Artists Birds
Country Artists CatsCountry Artists Dogs
Country CousinsCountry Hamlet
Country LivingCow Kisses
Cozy ChristmasCream And Cocoa
Crow CountryCute As A Button
Dapper DogsDartington Crystal
David Winter CottagesDennis Brown Collection
Dicken's VillageDisney
Disney Showcase CollectionDisney Traditions
Dog Gone GolfDown Petticoat Lane
ElisaElusive Legend
Elvis PresleyEwe And Me
Faith & GraceFanciful Felines
First GlassFloppy Tompkins
FoundationsFriends Of The Feather
From Barbie With LoveFunnybone Originals
Gallery Of LightGirls With A Passion For Fashion
GnomesGrizzly Growlers
Grow In GraceGrowing Up Girls
GundHalcyon Days
HaresnickleHarry Potter
Heaven And EarthHeavenly Kingdom
Heirloom BoxesHeritage Village Collection
Hogs & KissesHome Grown
Hot Dogs & Cool CatsIn God's Garden
In His NameIsabelle de Borchgrave
It's All About DanceIt's So You
Ivory CatsJames Herriot Collection
Jim Shore's Heartwood CreekJubilee Art
Julie UelandJust Too Cute
Laura's AtticLegacy Of Love
Li'l GabbersLilliput Lane
Looney TunesLucy & Me
Mahogany PrincessMary Engelbreit
Mary Had A Little LambMary Hughes Collection
Mary, Mary Had A FarmMary, Mary Quite Contrary
Mary's Artist GalleryMary's Bunny Farm
Mary's HenhouseMary's Moo Moos
Maud Humphrey BogartMcDonald's
Melly & FriendsMemories Of Yesterday
Mickey & Co.Moose Creek Crossing
My Blushing BunniesMy Little Kitchen Fairies
My Soul's WindowNational Geographic
Nature's CanvasNew England Village
North Pole SeriesOtagiri
Our Name Is MudPainter Of Light
Partners In CrimePassages
PeanutsPennywhistle Lane
Possible DreamsPowerpuff Girls
Precious MomentsPremier Covers
Pretty as a PicturePriscilla's Mouse Tales
Pumpkinseeds Folk ArtPurebred Pups
Raggedy Anne & AndyRainbow Forest
Rats The WayReasons To Believe
Reasons To RejoiceRedeemed
Rose O'Neil Kewpie CollectionRudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer TraditionsSandman
Santa's Sweet ShopSanta's Special Deerlivery
Santa's WorkshopSesame Street
Silver OptionsSimply Celebrate
Simply SplendidSisters & Best Friends
Small WondersSmall World Of Music
Snow LittlesSnow Village Halloween
SonlightSpeed Freaks
Spirit Of FolkSports Impressions
Star TrekStarlight Starbright
Steiff CollectionTake Heart
Teddy TompkinsTender Tucker
The BeatlesThe Grinch
The Land Of Milk & HoneyThe Legends of Sleepy Hollow-een
The Original Snow VillageThe Potter's Shed
The World Of SinterklaasThis Is The Day
This Little PiggyThis Little Piggy
Together ForeverTrail Of The Painted Ponies
Treasury Masterpiece EditionsTreasury Of Christmas Ornaments
Via VermontVictorian Belles
Walk In FaithWalt Disney Classics Collection
Where The Heart IsWhimzily
Willow TreeWinnie The Pooh & Friends
Winter's FrostWinterthur
Wistful FishermanWizard Of Oz

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