For Sale: 7-Story Building Shaped Like Giant Basket

Last of Longaberger Co.'s employees are moving out of Ohio's iconic 'Big Basket'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2016 6:25 PM CDT
For Sale: 7-Story Building Shaped Like Giant Basket
In this Sept. 6, 2005, file photo, the Longaberger building is seen in Newark, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Nearly 20 years ago, Longaberger Co. employees moved into their new headquarters in Newark, Ohio—a seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building shaped like a picnic basket. On Thursday, that stay comes to a close as the last of those employees who work in the "Big Basket" move out and over to the company's manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, about 20 minutes away, the Columbus Dispatch reports. It's a somewhat melancholy ending for a building that the Kansas City Star says was "considered one of the strangest, craziest office buildings in the world," with Mental Floss giving it a shoutout on its "10 Buildings Shaped Like What They Sell" list a few years back. "It's a Longaberger Medium Market Basket that's been blown up to 160 times its normal size," the Mental Floss description reads. "The basket includes a seven-story atrium, heated handles that prevent ice formation, and two 725-pound gold leaf Longaberger tags."

Company lore goes that company founder Dave Longaberger became irritated during a building planning meeting, spotted one of his firm's baskets, and told designers: "Make it look exactly like this." And selling baskets back in 1997 was apparently a booming business worthy of such a structure, which originally held more than 500 employees who brought in sales of $1 billion at the company's peak in 2000. But Longaberger died in 1999, the economy started faltering (meaning basket-buying was no longer a priority), and the company fell behind in taxes on the building: It currently owes more than a half-million dollars, the Newark Advocate reports. As of last year, fewer than 70 employees still worked in the Big Basket, per city records, and the final 10 prepared to clear out Thursday. Still, workers aren't too upset, as they'll now all be in Frazeysburg. "It will make it easier for all work groups to interact with each other and feel even more like a true family," a rep for Longaberger's parent company tells the Dispatch. The building is on the market. (More strange stuff stories.)

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