Adding A Little Romance Downtown
By Mike Boyer

Pure Romance’s 21-year relationship with Cincinnati hit a rough patch last fall when Ohio development officials denied its tax incentive request. The growing marketer of relationship products hoped to expand by moving its corporate office from Loveland to downtown Cincinnati, bringing about 70 jobs, but state officials weren’t as keen on the idea.

The story has a happy ending, though. After the city sweetened its tax credit, Pure Romance gave up its search for a site other than downtown and leased nearly 30,000 square feet on the fifth floor of the 655 Plum St. building.

It’s easy to snicker and make jokes about Pure Romance’s sex toys, lotions and creams, but the business, started in 1993 by diminutive housewife Patty Brisben out of her home, is today a more than $100 million company with offices in South Africa, Australia and Puerto Rico. It’s now a business that has empowered more than 100,000 women as independent business people through its home sales parties.

An annual tradition at Pure Romance is its annual warehouse sale the week leading up to Valentine’s Day that draws thousands to its distribution center at 161 Commerce Blvd. This year, the family-owned company also is planning a Valentine’s Day party downtown to celebrate the opening of the new corporate headquarters.

“We want to bring a little love to Cincinnati,” says Chris Cicchinelli, president and CEO, in addition to being Patty Brisben’s oldest son. He talked with Cincy about the company’s move downtown and its plans.


 

Why did Pure Romance want to move downtown?

We’ve enjoyed being in Loveland for the last eight years and our 47,000-square-foot distribution center will remain there. But a lot of my staff was saying: “Hey, we’d like to take a look at having more creative space.” Our company really is a marketing company. We’re working every day helping our sales consultants around the world sell their products better. When we saw all that’s going on in downtown, we wanted to be a part of it. We want to be more involved in the business community in our city.

Any bitterness over how the company was treated by the state?

I don’t have any resentment. At the end of the day, the city of Cincinnati came through for us. They were easy to work with and they have a good respect and understanding for what Pure Romance is all about.

We’re staying in Cincinnati and I wouldn’t want to be any place else. Mom and I talked about Florida, Indiana and Kentucky, but ultimately it came down to where we felt most comfortable and we felt most comfortable here.

What’s next for Pure Romance?

We’re looking at growing both organically and through acquisitions. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been expanding overseas adding offices in Johannesburg, South Africa; Sidney, Australia; and San Juan, Puerto Rico over the last several years. We’re still looking at international markets, but we want to build out those three markets over the next three years. And we feel there’s still a ton a growth for us in the United States.


Remembering World War I
Cincinnati commemorates the 100th anniversary of the war
By Taylor Spaw

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the onset of World War I and The Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Museum Center have joined forces with other cultural organizations to commemorate this event. Hosting an eight-month-long series, Cincinnati Remembers World War I, Cincinnati has come together to remember the 65 million men and women who fought in WWI.

One of the contributors to the event, the German-American Citizens League, will host German-Americans as Huns: The Anti-German Hysteria of World War I, a lecture by GACL President Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzman, at the German Heritage Museum on May 4. Dr. Tolzman will speak on the views of German-Americans post WWI and the treatment of Cincinnati Germans in the years after the war. “These are very important events that need to be recalled,” says Tolzman. Alongside his lecture, Tolzman will present post-WWI images of Germans portrayed in media.

University of Cincinnati’s history department focuses on another side of of WWI. Following a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, Dr. Elizabeth Frierson put together a four-week summer institute starting June 23. Titled WWI and the Arts: Sound, Vision and Psyche, the study will focus on different mediums of art during wartime. The lectures will “go beyond European, white combatants and focus on why WWI is a world war,” says Dr. Frierson.

While the events run from November to July, the Cincinnati Opera performs the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, Silent Night, July 10 and 12, to close out the series.