Long before there were iPhones, HDTVs, and even the internet, QVC veritably reinvented shopping and, along the way, became a household name both here in Chester County and around the world. The name QVC is an initialism standing for Quality-Value-Convenience.
QVC was founded by Joseph M. Segel on June 13, 1986. One of the first brands to sign a two-year deal with QVC was Sears. QVC made its first live broadcast on November 24, 1986and the. first item sold was a shower radio by Windsor Company.
Joseph M. Segel truly was the “father” of QVC. A University of Pennsylvania alumnus, he became the youngest faculty member at Wharton – at the age of 20, teaching Marketing 101 and 102. There, he coined his personal byword: “give customers more than they expect;” that byword later morphed into the mission statement of QVC. Notably, QVC is now one of the world’s largest television networks and is broadcast live to approximately 250 million homes worldwide through operations in the U.S., Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and a joint venture in China.
Segel knew that for QVC to succeed, it needed to grow its network; operate from a state-of-the-art studio; and out-perform the 20+ other home shopping channels vying for supremacy in the late 1980s. But, first, he needed to find a space to call home. Using his finely-tuned entrepreneurial skills, he was able to grow the QVC network and present innovative programming to market goods to the TV viewers who shopped by phone. As to finding a home for QVC, he turned to the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) for help.
Using CCEDC Services
Segel was introduced to CCEDC by Jim McErlane, a partner in the Chester County law firm of Lamb Wendell McErlane, who served on CCEDC’s Board of Directors. In 1965, CCEDC had launched “Citation Sites,” a brand created to market Chester County to companies as a destination for expanding their business and hundreds of sites were identified. CCEDC was vested with the responsibility of tagging the sites with Citation Site signs and conducting group and individual tours to selected sites consistent with the needs of clients. Incidentally, CCEDC still provides site selection services to its clients, but no longer uses the Citation Sites branding.
CCEDC helped Segel and the QVC executives locate a 35,000 square-feet industrial flex warehouse building in East Goshen Corporate Center to house its new cable television studio. CCEDC also identified financial incentives that facilitated the transaction. Meanwhile, QVC was expanding almost exponentially as the American shopping public embraced the concept of purchasing goods at home by phone. Before long, QVC needed an even larger space. At that time, the Brandywine Business Park had a vacancy at the former home of Commodore Business Machines, once a pioneer in personal computing.
Gary Smith, President of CCEDC, took the QVC executives to inspect the 542,000 square-feet building on 84 acres, but they balked at the deal because QVC couldn’t utilize the entire Commodore building immediately. CCEDC then helped negotiate a structured lease arrangement and worked with the PA Governor’s Action Team to provide incentives allowing QVC to grow into the building. It’s now QVC’s worldwide headquarters commonly referred to as QVC Studio Park. QVC Studio Park also offers a Studio Tour attraction and live studio audience shows.