Farewell Favorites: Sharper Image
The German concept of schadenfreude, taking joy in the misfortune of another, was surely invented for nasty people like Richard Thalheimer, the founder of Sharper Image who was kicked out of his own company in 2006. Thalheimer, a Yale and Hastings graduate, made a mint after he founded The Sharper Image in 1977, first selling a watch for runners before expanding into other high end gifts and gadgets. But as the company rose to great success, Thalheimer also became one of the most reviled men in San Francisco for his rudeness and lack of professionalism in dealing with employees. He was named among "10 Bosses From Hell" by New West magazine and was criticized for his offensive personality by others including California Business magazine. The company floundered in the early part of the 21st Century, with Thalheimer's ouster coming after he distracted the company by engaging in a doomed months-long legal imbroglio with Consumer Reports over Consumer's testing protocol and negative review of Sharper's Iconic Breeze. Thalheimer's fortune, family, and home in Pacific Heights may have provided him with a happy ever after, but workers in San Francisco will have to settle for a little schadenfreude each time a post-Thalheimer Sharper Image store shuts down. The 253 Post Street location is seen here in April, 2008.

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Copyright 2008 Hank Donat
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