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Midstate retailer among 'Hot 100' e-commerce sites

By , - Last modified: November 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Sandra Gunthorpe. File photo
Sandra Gunthorpe. File photo, an online toy retail shop operated by Sandra Gunthorpe of Cumberland County, was named to Internet Retailer's 2012 Hot 100 list of e-commerce sites alongside some of the biggest names in the Web and retail.

"This is a huge deal for us," Gunthorpe said this morning in an email. "Plus this is the first year they considered sites from around the world."

Gunthorpe is co-president of online retail outlets, Star Bright Kids Co. and Julabug with her long-time friend from Chicago, Susan Klieman. The companies sell children's toys, puzzles, educational building sets and natural-clothing lines from around the world. The products are alternatives for parents who want to limit their children's exposure to the battery-operated commotion of conventional toys.

"We have spent a ton of time, energy and money to revamp ( and renew our reputation as the trusted source for quality toys," Gunthorpe said.

Gunthorpe and Klieman acquired in August 2011 and set about renovating the site to better capture its potential. Today, it accounts for about 50 percent of their business, Gunthorpe said.

The partners started their online ventures in 2007, and today the companies are fast approaching $5 million in revenue. Gunthorpe works from her home in Dickinson Township.

Each year, Internet Retailer releases its Hot 100 list of the best websites based on how those sites are breaking new ground in e-commerce that other online retailers could learn from, according to the publication's website.

Sixteen editors and research analysts each nominate about 20 sites after an extensive research into their functionality, as well as how the companies use other online media such as social networking sites. Then they debate the choices and narrow the list to 100.

The final 2012 list includes Inc., mobile app store Google Play, Barnes & Noble Inc. and Apple Inc. is one of just five websites in the toys, hobbies and sporting goods category, which includes outdoor gear and clothing companies Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, and The North Face.

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