The name “Delaware North Cos.” may not ring a bell, but chances are you’ve patronized one of its establishments. Delaware North’s businesses range from concession stands at 30 U.S. airports to hotels and dining establishments at Yosemite National Park; it also owns the Boston Bruins. In December 2005 the Buffalo, NY-based company launched its online store,, to provide consumers with one-stop online access to its diverse products.

Items include a $6.99 panoramic print of Niagara Falls, an $84 Ahwahnee limited-edition stained-glass window, a $2,250 handwoven Navajo rug, and a $10,000 authentic meteorite. Spokesperson Kerry Hassen says sales have been solid since the site went live, with an average order size of $200.

“We originally created the site to really tell the story of the special places [national parks, airports, sporting venues] where we have a retail presence,” Hassen says, “so our initial projections were not incredibly high. So far, we have been incredibly pleased with our revenues, especially in the area of gift certificates.”

Much of the Website’s traffic has come through word-of-mouth marketing, although Hassen says the company has done some e-mail marketing to frequent visitors. The company is considering a print catalog for next year that would primarily be distributed in the more than 5,000 rooms of the hotels it manages in the U.S. and Pacific Rim.

URL: Product category: gifts, souvenirs Launched: December 2005 Target customer: tourists Phone: 716-858-5000 Competitors: C’est la Vie, Patina

Planning a wedding can turn just about anyone into a bridezilla, but is aiming to make the ordeal a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. Founder Beverlie Grizzle launched the site in April, after deciding that she wanted to “do something on the Internet,” she says.

Sales at have met expectations, though conversion rates could be better, Grizzle admits. Products range from a $16 Aurora garter to a $24 “bride”-embellished T-shirt to an $85 platter for wedding guests to sign rather than a traditional guest book. Grizzle has added cake toppers to the merchandise mix and might expand the line to include dresses and shoes as well.

Grizzle started pay-per-click advertising on Yahoo! in May and is working on launching an AdSense campaign on Google.

URL: Product category: wedding supplies and accessories Launched: April 2006 Target customer: engaged couples, brides-to-be Phone: 336-644-0936 Competitors:,


Healthy Kids’ Catalog

During a promotional tour earlier this year for her children’s book, It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Overweight, Merilee Kern realized that “no outlets are perfectly suited to sell this book.” As a result, she decided to use her public relations agency, her experience in Web marketing, and her years as a child-health advocate to start a Web catalog.

Launched in April, Healthy Kids’ Catalog sells merchandise designed to get children of all ages fit and active. Products include books, sports equipment, exercise videos, and health-promoting toys. The average order size is $51. Prices range from $9.95 for books to $1,800 for exercise equipment.

“Our mission is to be the most comprehensive one-stop source for products of this nature,” Kern says. “Right now, childhood obesity is probably at the highest point of visibility it’s ever been. Whether it’s prevention or intervention, it’s important to do something to make sure children have the tools that are needed.”

URL: Product category: children’s products Launched: April 2006 Target customer: parents with children up to 18 years old Competitors:, Gymsource Phone: 877-947-3513

Solar Night Industries

To fill a need in the building, construction, and architectural industries, Solar Night Industries launched an online store in January, which it followed with The Solar Night Builder’s Supply print catalog in September.

St. Louis-based Solar Night manufactures and distributes products to enable solar-powered living. Items include the Solar Mosquito Guard for $12.95, a tubular skylight kit for $274.52, and a complete clean-energy solution for $500,000. “Our goal with developing the Solar Night Builder’s Supply Catalog,” says president/CEO Jason Loyet, “was to accelerate the adoption of clean-energy packages and allow for builders to have one source for buying and sourcing best-in-class products for their projects.”

Loyet says the company’s customer base includes homeowners as well as architects and construction companies. “Consumers are demanding alternate means of producing electricity and backup systems that can be available when blackouts and brownouts occur,” he says.
Jim Tierney

URL: Product category: building supplies Launched: January 2006 Target customer: commercial and industrial construction companies, consumers Competitors: Real Goods Phone: 877-826-1991


DoodleSport When Amy Vansant Brunell bought a Labradoodle, a Labrador/poodle mix, in September, she instantly fell in love. But when she couldn’t find any merchandise with a Labradoodle embossed on it, Brunell figured that as the CEO of Web development firm Vansant Creations, she would be the perfect person to launch a Website dedicated to personalized clothing, gifts, and accessories for both standard and “new” dog breeds such as cockapoos (cocker spaniel/poodle hybrids) and puggles (pug/poodle mixes) and their owners.

Annapolis, MD-based DoodleSport launched in November 2005, just in time to take holiday orders. Average orders have been larger than expected, at about $100, and include three or four items each. Brunell says 90% of orders are from consumers, with dog breeders and veterinarians accounting for the rest.

DoodleSport products range from $49.99 V-neck men’s sweaters adorned with an embroidered dog to $19.99 cotton dog collars. Brunell has marketed the site through pay-per-click advertising on Google, Yahoo!, and Overture, as well as via press releases and local advertising. She has no plans to mail a catalog.
Heather Retzlaff

URL: Product category: dog-related clothing and accessories Launched: November 2005 Target customer: dog lovers Phone: 410-266-0888 Competitors: In the Company of Dogs, Orvis

Hannspree A television set with all of its cords and cables exposed can be a living room eyesore. Hannspree is out to change that with its stylish line of televisions and accessories. The Fremont, CA-based U.S. headquarters of Taipei, Taiwan-based television manufacturer/distributor Hannspree in November launched a stateside consumer Website. Its first U.S. store had opened in Beverly Hills, CA, in July 2005 and a second in San Francisco in October.

Unlike typical television manufacturers, Hannspree designs the product then fits the technology to it. “We are attempting to design products that fit into a lifestyle while still maintaining a high level of performance,” says Randy Irvine, e-commerce business unit manager. The company sells 180 TV designs, with some offering 30 variations such as Disney-themed and Major League Baseball set frames.

Irvine says sales are matching projections, although he wouldn’t disclose specifics. Products include a 23″ sleek, flat-screen TV for $999.99, a 10″ TV with a plush giraffe cover for $249.99, and a ladybug-shape remote control for $39.99.

URL: Product category: consumer electronics Launched: November 2005 Target customer: design-centric consumers Phone: 888-808-6789 Competitors: Sony, Samsung


Swell Baby

When Rhoda Bueno was pregnant with her now-two-year-old son, Jake, she wondered how shopping for baby gifts and accessories could become an easier task for new mothers.

So in January, Bueno launched the Swell Baby Website. In creating Swell Baby, Bueno envisioned an easy one-stop shopping destination for mothers. Swell Baby offers dozens of designer-label baby items, along with a customer loyalty program called Brownie Points.

The Website’s brands include Tea Collection, Jellycat, Sozo, Jeeto, Baby Jak, Paulina Quintana, Appaman, Marese, Storksak, and Petit Bateau. “We sell baby essentials for newborns up to five-year-olds,” says Bueno. In addition to apparel, Swell Baby sells toys, diaper bags, nursery accessories, books, building blocks, compact discs, and puzzles.

Bueno says the average order is about $70. “People spend a lot on baby items and gifts, and our business comes from all over the country. We’re still trying to get our feet wet, but the feedback from customers has been great.”

Web address: Product category: children’s apparel and gifts Launched: January 2006 Target customers: parents and people looking to buy unique baby gifts Competitors: Babystyle, Phone: 650-358-3940

Best Manufacturing Group

Jersey City, NJ-based Best Manufacturing Group, a uniform company founded in 1914, launched a Website in March to supplement its print catalog.

Best serves the hospitality, textile rental, healthcare and image-apparel markets. The site features Best’s designer hospitality apparel collection, presented in partnership with Hartmarx, which has exclusive rights to market selected products under a number of brands such as H&W, XMI, Claiborne, and Palm Beach.

The collection aims to bring name-brand tailored apparel to hotel employees and guests. Separate components in knit tops, men’s shirts, and ladies blouses are available in six styles and more than a dozen colors such as cornflower, pumpkin, and cobalt.

Don Anderson, senior vice president of sales, is excited about the site. “When Best Manufacturing set out to produce our new designer-label apparel collection, the challenge was to create a clean, polished, tailored look to match the design, management style, vision, and guest appeal of the hospitality clients we work with,” he says. The site, he contends, “gives the hospitality industry an alternative — a high-fashion style retail designer collection at a mass level.”

Web address: Product category: uniforms Launched: March 2006 Target customer: hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality industries Competitors: Cintas, American Uniform Sales Phone: 800-843-3233


UpperCut Images Miles Gerstein, founder/CEO of Madison, WI-based UpperCut Images, put up his dukes in July when he decided that stock photography needed better representation. With Ellen Boughn, vice president of UpperCut Images, he formed the stock photo agency, which licenses rights-protected images — photos licensed for a specific use and for which clients are charged per use.

UpperCut offers nearly 20,000 images, almost all of which are commissioned, original works by top photographers such as Chase Jarvis, Darryl Estrine, and Paul Aresu. Gerstein says 80% of the work is designed to fill the most requested image types. “We want art buyers to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for and for them to find something even better” than anticipated.

Sales have at least met expectations, says Gerstein, due in part to marketing e-mails to clients of sister Website PunchStock, which sells royalty-free images. An UpperCut catalog mailed in early September to 40,000 graphic designers, art buyers, and art directors, and a PunchStock catalog mailed around the same time to 120,000 designers.

URL: Product: stock photography Launched: July 2005 Target customer: graphic designers, art directors Competitors: Corbis, Getty Images, PictureQuest Phone: 800-390-0461

Svoboda A size 18, Jessica Svoboda found it tough to find plus-size clothes that were fashion-forward rather than frumpy. That’s why she launched her own line of stylish plus-size apparel.

The line launched in January 2004 with a Website that sold only to distributors and retailers. A site targeting consumers,, debuted this past August. The line is also available in more than 35 boutiques in 12 states and three countries.

Average order size is $300-$330 and consists of about three items. The site has a conversion rate of 10%-15%. Svoboda launched a Google AdWords campaign, an affiliate marketing program, and an eBay storefront in December. She plans to launch a loyalty program in January. — Heather Retzlaff

URL: Product: plus-size clothing Launched: August 2005 Target customer: fashion-conscious plus-size women Competitors: Silhouettes, Lane Bryant, Avenue, Junonia Phone: 310-621-7382


Summit Tack

Husband-and-wife team Laura and Bob Kraut have expanded their passion for horses online with Summit Tack, a Website selling tack and other supplies for competition horses. The couple started Summit Tack in January to complement the Website of their Oconomowoc, WI, horse-training stables, Summit Jumping. “We started putting links to our sponsors on our Summit Jumping site, and I started selling these things to customers in our barn, but I thought it would be a good idea to start an [online] store,” says Bob Kraut.

Products range from a $198 Dressage Cool Grip saddle pad to a $74 Leather Kentucky Halter to a $12 bottle of Cybel Spray to untangle and condition manes and tails. Summit Tack’s Web sales have been slow, Kraut says, partially because of an irksome shopping cart, which at press time he was updating to make more user-friendly.

URL: Product category: equestrian supplies Launched: January 2005 Target customer: equestrian competitors Phone: 262-593-2970 Competitors:, Double J Saddelry

Psycho Therapy Clothing

“What’s wrong with you?” asks the home page of New York-based T-shirt marketer Psycho Therapy Clothing. The Website, launched in July, sells T-shirts imprinted with psychology and therapy terms. Keith Knight, who is also a filmmaker, launched the company after a film project was put on hold indefinitely. While undergoing therapy, Knight took a class about fashion and business and got the idea for Psycho Therapy Clothing.

T-shirts imprinted with a word such as “abnormal,” “narcissist,” or “antisocial” sell for $21.99; shirts with a corresponding definition of the back cost $24.99. Tank tops sell for $19.99.

Sales — of about 100 shirts as of press time — have been marginal, which Knight attributes to a lack of marketing. But interest in the brand has been picking up, he says, adding that he plans to advertise in Rolling Stone and Us Weekly before the holidays. — Heather Retzlaff

URL: Product category: imprinted T-shirts Launched: July 2005 Target customer: college students, teens, intellectuals Phone: 646-330-5169 Competitors: Notvanilla, Penal T’s, Bella-chic


Rhinestone Studio

Not many companies can pin their launch on a cherry festival, but that is precisely how Canton, MI-based Rhinestone Studio got started in July 2004. After making a rhinestone-studded T-shirt with “Big Sister” for her eldest daughter, Cathy Veri received so much attention that a store in Traverse City, MI, home of the National Cherry Festival, requested 150 shirts with a cherry design. She was asked to complete the order within a week — and she delivered.

From that haphazard start, Veri launched Rhinestone Studio in October, selling T-shirts for infants through adults. The shirts cost $15-$30 depending on the design and the number of rhinestones used. In addition to ready-made designs, the company will create customized apparel.

Veri admits that sales are not huge; she typically receives about four consumer orders a week and two or three custom orders a month. She plans to add design motifs and merchandise such as temporary tattoos, visors, and belts. A print catalog is also in the mix, although Veri says she will wait until the Website is more profitable.

URL: Product category: apparel Launched: October 2004 Target customer: women, especially mothers of young girls Phone: 734-394-1717 Competitors: Just Jen, Rhinestone Revival

Anchor Packaging Co.

Birmingham, AL-based Anchor Packaging is trying to tie a beautiful bow on its venture into e-commerce. The 45-year-old packaging supplies cataloger already had a loyal clientele among local retailers. But customer service manager Kristy Harrison says Anchor went online this past July largely to reach new customers in the North and the West.

The company sells gift boxes and bags, gift wrap, ribbons and bows, tissue paper, custom bags, and shipping materials. So far sales have been “a little slow,” says Harrison, with 10-20 people visiting the site each day. Of those, one or two convert to customers. These new buyers are primarily from New York, Pennsylvania, and California — areas Anchor had hoped to reach. Marketing for the site is currently limited to banners on other sites and organic search marketing.
Heather Retzlaff

URL: Product category: packaging supplies Launched: July 2005 Target customer: retailers Phone: 800-339-7577 Competitors: Nashville Wraps, Bags & Bows



If you’re looking for stylish jewelry, apparel, and accessories, check out Catbird. Sprung from a store of the same name in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Catbird launched in January. Products include Vermillion Fiji Earrings for $75, Paper Fig Solid Gold Bracelets for $400, and Malu Faux-Fir Leg Warmers for $60.

“About 80% of our online business comes from jewelry sales, with the remaining 20% from clothing and accessories,” says president/owner Rony Vardi. “We seem to cater mostly to the ‘artsy’ buyer — someone interested in something that they are not likely to see in a lot of other stores” rather than consumer chasing the latest trend.

Vardi, who opened the store in September, estimates that about 70% of her online business comes from the New York metro area and 25% from the Los Angeles area. Promotionally speaking, some of Catbird’s offerings have been written up on DailyCandy, an e-newsletter that recognizes unique trends in fashion, food, and art in large metro areas including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Additionally, Vardi has found that her small store drives a significant amount of traffic to the Website.

While she has no plans for a print catalog, Vardi is pleased with the progress of the site. “I’m hopeful that more writers and scouts will notice our other offerings here and publish something cool and interesting about them,” she says. “I would like to be able to add more categories, more items and also showcase local Williamsburg designers and the neighborhood itself.” Vardi hopes to begin offering Website promotions some time later this summer.

URL: Product category: jewelry, apparel, accessories Launched: January Target customer: women early 20s to mid 30s Phone: 718-388-7688 Competitors:,,

The Tie Bar

A piece of material you wear around your neck needn’t cost an arm and a leg. That thought inspired the September launch of The Tie Bar, a Website that specializes in neckties — all 100% silk, handmade, and priced at $15 (except for extra-long ties, which cost $20).

Gina and Greg Shugar, both attorneys and copresidents of the Naperville, IL-based business, believed there was a need for a discount online tie shop. “Ties are certainly important, and a sharp tie can come in handy, but too many people think of ties as a big investment,” says Gina Shugar. “Looking current and professional shouldn’t cost a fortune.”

While the Shugars have entertained the idea of opening up a small retail location down the road that might also sell other articles of clothing, they are convinced that the Web is the best place to get started. The Shugars do not anticipate starting a print catalog, however.

To further promote the site the couple does online search optimization and occasionally runs advertisements in The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. They have also placed ads in various legal journals and newsletters.

Yet as the site nears its one-year anniversary, Gina Shugar maintains that word of mouth is the best way to foster good business. “Purchasing ties doesn’t seem confined to any particular income category or demographic. Our customers seem to come from all over, and word does seem to get around.” Indeed, the site features a “how heard” field to encourage customers to indicate how they learned about the service, and so far the majority have chosen “friend.”

URL: Product category: men’s ties Launched: September 2004 Target customer: men Phone: 877-888-8437 Competitors: Wild Ties



Need a replacement remote control or an obscure printer cable? With an inventory of more than 7 million parts and accessories, PartStore probably has you covered.

The new Website sells every imaginable sort of consumer electronics part, from cell phone replacement batteries ($6.89) to audio video connectors ($23.99) to lithium batteries for your laptop ($199.00).

A division of New York-based gadgets and parts reseller Partsearch Technologies, PartStore went live in summer 2004 and was revamped this past February with improved search capability. “Consumers have very specific needs, and they need to know quickly if you have the exact part,” says Dan Sachs, vice president of operations.

Thanks to the improved searching functions and the addition of a “Did You Mean” pop-up box for misspellings, the site’s sales and conversion rates have improved 15% since the redesign, says director of e-commerce Jack Matarasso. To promote the site, PartStore is marketing through search engines and on shopping sites such as Bizrate and C/Net.


Product category: parts and accessories for the home and computer

Target customer: consumers; a small department handles corporate accounts

Phone: 212-201-0330

Competitors: Radio Shack,


A $1.2 billion retailer with 360 department stores in 20 states, Knoxville, TN-based retailer Goody’s Family Clothing is venturing online as well. The retailer of moderately priced apparel just launched a Website in March.

This isn’t Goody’s initial foray online, says vice president of e-commerce Brett Trent; the company had had a Website previously. but it wasn’t transactional. “We took a real hard look at the market and decided this was what we needed to do in order to compete,” Trent says. “The site is easy to navigate by design, we wanted to do without the gimmicks and gadgetry,” he says.

Founded by Mike Goodfriend in 1953, Goody’s sells apparel made specifically for it by manufacturers such as Duck Head, Pierre Cardin, and Hawaiian Tropic, as well as national brands such as Docker’s, Levi’s, Russell, and Adidas. The vast majority of items on the Website, Trent says, fall in the $8-$30 range.


Product category: moderately priced apparel

Launched: March 2005

Target customer: middle-income women, teen girls, families

Phone: 865-966-2000

Competitors: Kohl’s; J.C. Penney

D.L. Ferrier’s

Former writer/editor Donna Ferrier responded to an ad from Web service provider Internet Speedway in the back pages of the SkyMall catalog, and it changed her life. From Internet Speedway Ferrier bought the software and products to set up her Website and launch a business.

The D.L. Ferrier’s site sells discounted products in more than a dozen merchandise categories, including apparel, bedding, outdoor gear, and consumer electronics. Internet Speedway hosts the site and supplies Ferrier with the products, which are drop-shipped from the manufacturers.

So far sales are meeting expectations, but Ferrier admits that building up a business takes time. She’s drawing people to the site via pay per clicks and search engine optimization. Ferrier has also found radio advertising to be effective in pushing visitors to the Website.


Product category: general merchandise

Launched: October 2004

Target customer: women

Phone: 580-310-6151

Competitors:, Brands on Sale


Footy Pajamas When Kim Kaputska could not find suitable footy pajamas for her 14-month-old daughter, a Website was born.

Although about 95% of the product it sells are, you guessed it, footy pajamas for babies and toddlers, the Website also sells cotton toys, hats, blankets — “anything to keep toddlers and infants warm,” Kaputska says.

After a rocky beginning — problems with a Web development firm located in India forced the Website to launch on Christmas Eve — Kaputska is pleased by the initial response, with search engines driving most of the traffic.

Looking ahead, Kaputska plans to market the Website to baby showers and gift registries. And in the fall, Footy Pajamas will be adding footy pajamas for older children and adults.

Web address: Product category: children’s sleepwear Launched: December 2004 Target customer: parents Phone: 650-685-6342 Competitors: Lands’ End, When Edison, NJ-based husband-and-wife team Jim and Sherry Curtin formed late last year, the couple didn’t have the deep advertising pockets of certain other jewelry merchants, such as one-time dot-com darlings Blue Nile and Instead, the “boot-strapped operation,” as chief operating officer Steve Curtin calls it, is using low-cost search engine marketing to drive traffic. For instance, in February the Website went live on Froogle, Google’s shopping channel, which is free for marketers to join. And has opted for paid inclusion on search engines such as Yahoo! rather than paid placement. According to Curtin, paid inclusion costs $0.05 -$1.00 per click, whereas paid placement can cost as much as 20 times more.

The strategy is apparently working; Curtin says sales have met expectations.

Prices range from $27.95 for a silver-plated jewelry box to $10,000 for a ruby-and-diamond tennis bracelet. Each piece of jewelry comes with a quality guarantee and a fully certified appraisal.

Web address: Product category: jewelry Launched: December 2004 Target customer: men and women 35 and over Phone: 732-672-6287 Competitors: Blue Nile,

Julianna Rae Frustrated after she couldn’t find intimates that fit “real women,” Juli Lee in October launched plus-size lingerie Website Julianna Rae.

Lee designs most of the items that the Burlington, MA-based company sells. Prices range from $28 for panties to $260 for a silk bathrobe.

To generate traffic, the company has done affiliate marketing and bought keywords on Yahoo! and Google. The Website plans to cross-promote with other brands, such as, to offer gifts to customers who register as a way to get e-mail addresses.

But president Bill Keefe says offline promotion is just as important as online. The company had been featured in newspapers such as the Boston Herald and on local TV. Sales are meeting expectations, he says, with the average order size 50% above plan. The company plans to launch a 16-page digest-size print catalog, perhaps as early as this summer.

Web address: Product category: plus-size lingerie Launched: October 2004 Target customer: upscale plus-size women ages 30-55 Phone: 781-743-2702 Competitors: Victoria’s Secret, Soma



Stockings and stocking stuffers have always been big in Kathleen Vignos’s family. That’s why the former technology and software consultant and mother of two small children launched Plumpstocking in October.

Plumpstocking sells nearly 350 gift items, from children’s toys to gourmet food to personal care items. Products are sold primarily as collections, but assortments can be customized, and items may be bought separately. Prices range from $24.99 to $68.99.

So far, Vignos says, sales are in line with expectations. “I wasn’t looking for an explosion,” she says. Advertising was limited to Google and via word of mouth. The site will remain active after the holidays, but it will not restock sold-out items. Vignos is considering carrying the site’s concept into other holidays, such as Easter.

Web address: Product category: small gifts Launched: October 2004 Target customer: women, gift-givers Phone: 415-215-7195 Competitors: Red Envelope, specialty merchants

Lavett & Chin

High-end haircare brand Lavett & Chin in November replaced its two-year-old informational Website with a commerce-enabled site complete with detailed product information and integrated video.

Based in New York, Lavett & Chin sells shampoos, moisturizers, and grooming aids made from natural ingredients such as balsam Peru oil, horsetail extract, and owyhee water. Products, which range in price from $10 for a sample set to $32 for a mango-and-shea-butter treatment, were previously available only in 45 specialty harcare supplies stores.

Creative director Brent Lavett, who cofounded the company with Nan Chin, says the site has had a “good” response, but he would not provide specifics. To attract visitors, Lavett & Chin offers a “refer a friend” feature for users to send custom e-mails to friends, and it sends e-mails to its customers monthly.

Web address: Product category: beauty products Launched: November 2004 Target customer: upscale consumers Phone: 718-643-2396 Competitors: Kiehl’s, Bumble & Bumble

Absolute Home

Home improvement gurus don’t have to brave their local big-box retailers anymore, thanks to

The home improvement site, which launched in late July, offers products such as light fixtures, faucets, and outdoor grills. Prices range from $7 for a disposal stopper to $2,800 for a stainless steel grill. Michael Golden, CEO of AbsoluteHome and sister company HomeClick, says the average order size is $420, with sales at $600,000 a month and projected fourth-quarter sales at $2.5 million. The site averages a 1.9% conversion rate.

Golden plans to market AbsoluteHome to HomeClick customers through e-mail. He also intends to take advantage of affiliate programs, and comparison engines and may launch a print catalog of the most popular products.

Web address: Product category: home improvement Launched: July 2004 Target customer: homeowners Phone: 800-656-1592 Competitors:,

new web catalogs

Surf Mom

Mothers who like to hang 10 have a new online source for surf-themed goods for themselves and for their families. In March, Claire Bediamol launched Surf Mom, which she says is the first-ever Website dedicated to wives, mothers, and children who love to surf.

Bediamol, an avid surfer and a self-proclaimed “surf mom” to three young boys, found that the sport was largely tailored toward adventurous young men. “There was a hole in the industry,” says Bediamol. In its first day up, the site received 9,000 visits resulting in 10-15 actual purchases, thanks to an e-news release sent to 100 newspapers.

The site sells apparel, such as sarongs and sweatshirts, ocean-themed lithographs, and jewelry, ranging in price from $2 to $80. The average order is about $100, according to Bediamol.

Featured on the Website is a message board on which “surf families” can discuss travel, surfing news, and other topics. To further promote the site, Bediamol plans to purchase banner ads on other surf sites such as

Web address: Product category: surfing-themed apparel and gifts Launched: March 2004 Target customer: female surfers ages 25-35 Phone: 714-964-0803 Competitors:,

Loop NYC

A retailer of trendy bags and accessories, Loop NYC debuted on the Web in 2002 with a site that provided little more than contact and product information. In response to overwhelming demand by site visitors, Loop’s head designer and founder, China Young, launched a commerce-enabled site in January.

Based in New York’s garment district, Loop sells items such as funky camera cases, satin jewelry boxes, and purses that you can clutch, roll up, or sling over your shoulder. Prices range from $6 to $144, with an average order size of $45.

“Our hit rate, prior to e-commerce, was 3,000-4,000 a month,” says Michael Jean, Loop’s chief operations officer of e-business. “Now we average 1,800-2,000 hits a day and climbing.”

Jean attributes much of the site’s success to the efforts of its public relations firm, New York-based Siren PR. “Having our product featured in magazines and given as promotional items at celebrity events is key exposure,” says Jean.

The company plans to update the site with new products about every two weeks. To increase sales and visits to the site, Loop would like to partner with some of the hundreds of stores that sell parts of its product line.

Web address: Product category: handbags and accessories Launched: January 2004 Target customer: urban teens and adults ages 13-33 Phone: 800-278-9218 Competitors: Paul Frank,


According to Brett Harris, former CEO of glassware and flatware wholesaler Ten Strawberry Street, the party-planning niche needed a Website that sold more than dishes, glasses, and cutlery. To that end, Harris founded Galasource last July.

Based in Denver, Galasource offers roughly 44,000 SKUs of food service wares, from commercial dishwashers and meat grinders to candelabras and ice cream machines. Prices range from $0.29 for a shot glass to $44,000 for a top-of-the-line oven. Customers include party planners, restaurants, caterers, and hotels.

The site boasts an average of 10,000 hits a day with a 3%-4% conversion rate, says vice president Blake Snowdon. Galasource bought what Snowdon refers to as “high-traffic keywords” such as “commercial dishwasher” and “commercial restaurant supplies” in online pay-per-click advertising programs. “We have a click-through conversion of 65%-70%, minimum,” says Snowdon. He estimates the average order size at about $900.

A print catalog is not a part of the bigger picture, says Snowdon. Although Galasource receives “tons of requests for a catalog all the time,” he says, “it just would not be conducive for us to print one.”

Web address: Product category: catering supplies Launched: July 2003 Target customer: hotels, restaurants, event planners Phone: 888-521-4252 Competitors: Fun Foods Depo,, Zama Enterprises,,

A by Andrea Barna

As a child, Andrea Barna loved to make jewelry from colorful beads and baubles. In 2002, after working in the magazine industry for a year and a half as assistant editor at Mode, Barna returned to her first love, launching a line of jewelry that she sold in New York showrooms and at trade shows.

After her jewelry began appearing in fashion magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle, and Glamour, “people started asking about where they could buy my stuff,” says Barna. Although the jewelry is sold in 50 stores nationwide and in Japan, this past February she launched the A by Andrea Barna Website.

The site sells handmade necklaces, earrings, and bracelets in 14K and 18K gold, or in sterling silver with semiprecious stones. The average order from the Website is $100-$150, with visitors usually purchasing two items at a time. More than 270,000 people visited the site in its first six weeks, Barna says.

It helps that fashion magazines continue to feature her pieces and now credit the site in their pages. Vogue magazine’s site will have a link to starting in September, and celebrities such as Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, and Demi Moore have been photographed wearing her jewelry. “The celebrity attention is amazing!” Barna says.

Looking ahead, Barna plans to introduce a “make your own jewelry” page where visitors can choose from various stones, charms, and chains to customize their jewelry. Barna also expects to launch a print catalog in the next year.

Web address: Product category: jewelry Launched: February 2004 Target customer: women ages 20-35 Phone: 212-486-3357 Competitors: Melissa Joy Manning, Me and Ro, Miguel Ases

New Web Catalogs

The Gifted Ones

If you’re looking for a unique themed gift basket to celebrate occasions ranging from Hanukkah to housewarmings, The Gifted Ones probably has it. And because the 17-year-old store launched a Website in September, you don’t have to trek to New York’s Greenwich Village to shop there.

Owned by David Titus and Tim Riches, The Gifted Ones last year merged with Gotham Baskets, an online gourmet shop opened in April 2003 by former Wall Street executive Charlie Susi. The Gifted Ones Website is logging 1,400 visitors a day, says Susi. The $1 million company’s overall sales have doubled since going online.

Prices range from $29 for the Movie Munchies Gift Basket, which features a box of chocolate stars, movie-trivia fortune cookies, flavored popcorn, and old-fashioned movie candy, to the $200 Simply Red gift basket, which includes Mumm Champagne Truffles, jalapeno cheese biscuits, truffle cocoa, and DiCamillo’s biscotti di Prato. The Website’s average order value is $75.

To promote the site online, the company is relying on search word optimization, using Google Adword. Offline, The Gifted Ones mails a three-page foldout brochure to 3,000 customers before major holidays to drive customers to the site.

Web address: Product category: gourmet gifts Launched: September 2003 Target customer: corporate gift buyers and middle-aged women Phone: 866-443-8332 Competitors:,,

HRP World

Peoria, IL-based HRP World, which sells replacement parts for race cars, is gunning for sales on its Website, launched in July 2003.

The company, which has a five-year-old print catalog, considers the site a cost-efficient way to provide additional service to customers. “We can upload more technological information on the Internet, which will allow us to include PDF specs of products,” says vice president of business development Jason Mitchell. “If they’re looking to get information after hours or wanting to place an order after hours, we don’t have to have somebody here.”

The 15,000 products offered range from 15-cent caps for plumbing lines to $15,000 transmissions. The average order value is $300-$500; popular products include break pads, break fluids, and tool supplies, or what Mitchell refers to as consumable items that last for a few races. The company is seeing five or six orders placed per day.

Whereas the print catalog is geared toward racers, the Website also features products for auto enthusiasts. For instance, the $199.95 Icard System software for Nintendo Gameboys allows users to pick up signals from the transponders attached to each car so that they can calculate the time and distance of each car while the race is in progress.

In January the company launched a promotional campaign that included placing banner ads on search engines and running ads in auto-racing enthusiast publications. Links to the site were also placed on auto racing association site

Web address: Product category: auto replacement parts Launched: July 2003 Target customer: auto racers and enthusiasts Phone: 866-851-7223 Competitors:,,

Shady Lamp Workshop

Philadelphia-based Shady Lamp Workshop aims to turn people on to its lampshades and home accessories via its Website.

The site, which became transactional in March 2003, started out selling only lampshades, but general manager John Wilson says the company quickly learned that it had to branch out to lighting and home decor. Prices range from $2 for candle rings to $500 for chandeliers, with most products falling in the $8-$15 range. The average order is $50. Wilson says the Shady Lamp site receives 500-600 visitors a day and has a 1% conversion rate.

To increase its online success, the company is investing in search engine advertising using Google and Overture. Shady Lamp also places small ads in the back of The New Yorker magazine, as well as ads in publications such as Southern Living and Country Living. In addition, it includes the Web address in the local print advertising it does in Pennsylvania. For now, the company has no plans to mail a print catalog.

Web address: Product category: lighting and home accessories Launched: March 2003 Target customer: women 30 and older Phone: 800-548-8783 Competitors: www.shadesoflightcom,


Gourmet food retailers now have a cybersource for restocking their shelves. New York-based wholesaler Condimental in July 2003 launched a Website selling products such as jam, olive oils, crackers, and fish delicacies by the case.

Prices range from $25 for a case of Mucky Duck Mustard barbecue sauce to $408 for a 14-oz. tin of caviar. President Thompson Bellingrath says a typical order is 10-40 cases of jam, priced at $40 per case. While Condimental processes the orders, each vendor drop-ships the order to the customer. Also, “suppliers manage all of their own information,” Bellingrath explains. “So if someone wants to change pricing or add a new image, they just log in and make the changes themselves.”

A former gourmet food buyer for a store, Bellingrath started Condimental in 2000 as a business-to-business network; he receives a commission on each sale from the site. The results so far are encouraging, says Bellingrath. Five hundred to 1,000 visitors view the site daily. As for product sales, he adds, “We saw continued growth through the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2003, and we’re pleased with it and looking forward to 2004.”

To promote the site, Bellingrath plans to take out space ads in trade publications such as Gourmet Retailer, Specialty Food, Gourmet News, Fancy Food, and Culinary Products. Online he invests in search word optimization using search engine Overture.

Bellingrath is considering creating a 20-page print catalog within the next few years. Instead of putting all the site’s products into the book, he would highlight a few products from each supplier.

Web address: Product category: wholesale specialty food Launched: July 2003 Target customer: gourmet retailers Phone: 212-327-0000 Competitors:,,

New Web Catalogs

Active Mail Order

It’s been a smooth ride so far for skateboard supplies and apparel company Active Mail Order, says chief operating officer Todd Melinn. The Ontario, CA-based retailer launched a Website and a print catalog this past March.

A division of Active Ride Shop, which owns seven stores in southern California, Active Mail Order sells products ranging from T-shirts to customized skateboards. The average price point is $50, and the average order size is $80, says Melinn. The site also features skateboarding forums and message boards, video instructions on how to build a skateboard, and interviews with skateboarding pros.

To promote the site and the print catalog, the company has taken out full-page ads in magazines such as Transworld Skateboarding, Skateboarder, and Thrasher, as well as multipage ads in the magazines’ annual buying guides. Active Mail Order is also doing keyword advertising through the search engine Overture. The debut issue of the quarterly print catalog mailed in March to around 250,000 customers and prospects found through co-op database Abacus.

Web address: Product category: skateboarding gear and apparel Launched: March 2003 Target customer: skateboarders and fans ages 10-20 Phone: 800-588-3911 Competitors: CCS, Skate America,

Melissa Guerra

Edinburg, TX-based chef Melissa Guerra may live 20 minutes north of Mexico, but her focus is decidedly south of the border. The host of a Mexican-cooking show on Texas PBS affiliate stations from 1998 to 2001, Guerra launched her eponymous online and print catalogs in April to enable Americans to add a touch of Mexican culture to their home.

Guerra started the company in response to requests from viewers and from fans of her 1997 cookbook, The Texas Provincial Kitchen. Best-sellers include $14.95 juice squeezers and $6.95 hand-cut papel picade, or decorative pierced paper. Other merchandise includes $29.95 traditional Mexican mortar-and-pestle sets made of volcanic rock, $8.95 handmade soaps, and $4.95 Maseca brand corn tortilla mix. The average order size for the Website and catalog is $41.23.

The company’s proximity to Mexico enables it to keep prices down, Guerra says. “Having an office located at the southernmost point on the U.S.-Mexican border gives us a very distinct advantage over other companies trying to get top artistry and products from Mexico,” she says.

Guerra is planning to upgrade her Website this year to include a slideshow of products, such as glassware, that she says are not shown to their best advantage on paper. There will also be the addition of what Guerra calls “application shots” that will enable visitors to see the products in use. “People won’t be seeing on the Website exactly what they saw in the catalog,” she says. “They will be seeing something that has more depth to it.”

Web address: Product category: cooking supplies and home decor Launched: April 2003 Target customer: cooking enthusiasts and aficionados of Mexican food and culture Phone: 877-875-2665 Competitors: Sur La Table, Eziba, Sundance

Gorton’s Fresh Seafood

Selling fresh lobster, crabs legs, and other bounty from the sea, Gloucester, MA-based Gorton’s Fresh Seafood believes consumers will find its new Website quite a catch.

“Gorton’s always wanted to expand beyond frozen seafood into higher-end products,” says senior marketing manager Nancy Peterson. The 155-year-old company, perhaps best known for its frozen fish sticks, is hoping its Website will attract upscale customers seeking foods for special occasions. The site’s offering is primarily for gift-giving occasions, “as opposed to putting a meal on the table, which is what Gorton’s retail is about,” Peterson says.

The Website, which launched in August, sells such delicacies as live lobsters for $49.99-$169.99, Chilean sea bass for $29.99-$55.99, scallops for $16.99-$31.99, and the $139.99 Executive Assortment, a gift basket featuring white sturgeon caviar, Scottish smoked salmon, cooked shrimp, and West Australian lobster tails.

The company is anticipating a $100 average order size. So far the site’s sales are meeting projections, Peterson says. “We expect a big part of the business to grow during the holidays,” she adds. Gorton’s has invested in paid search site placement on Google and Overture and is relying on a public relations agency to get placement in newspapers and magazines. The company is also evaluating the possibility of mailing a print catalog within a few years.

Web address: Product category: food Launched: August 2003 Target customer: upscale gift-givers Phone: 800-335-3674 Competitors: Lobster Gram, Legal Sea Foods

Stork Gifts

Personalization is what sets St. Louis-based Stork Gifts apart from other marketers of gifts for babies and young children, say co-owners Barry Chelist and David Mittleman. The company, which launched a Web catalog in February, sells products such as $40.99 wooden stools, $26.99 wooden coat racks, $24.99 ceramic piggy banks, and $9.99 children’s music albums, all of which can be personalized with the child’s name. The site offers a gift registry as well.

To promote the site, Chelist and Mittleman sent e-mails to 1,600 customers of their previous business, Hollow Woodworks, a manufacturer of wood products that they sold in January to focus on the children’s market. Of these 1,600 customers, 21% visited the site, and 4.8% made a purchase. The average order size is $45. Chelist and Mittleman also spread the word through the use of Google Adwords, so that every time keywords such as “piggy bank” are typed into the search box, links to Stork Gifts pop up on the right side of the screen.

Web address: Product category: children’s gifts Launched: February 2003 Target customer: new parents and gift-givers Phone: 866-Storkgifts Competitors: My Bambino, Baby Wonderland, Happy Kids Personalized Gifts

New Web Catalogs

Cataloger Golf Tournament hopes to hit a hole in one with its new Website, Whereas the Plano, TX-based company’s print catalog sells logo-inscribed golf apparel in bulk to tournament directors, sells similar products to individuals.

Selling merchandise from brands such as Nike, Ashworth, Antigua, Callaway Golf, T, and Cutter & Buck, the site targets women but offers products for men as well. Vice president of marketing Ed Grace says 70%-80% of the site’s customers are women, though many of them are buying merchandise for the men in their lives. Prices range from $30 to $150.

The site is receiving more than 10,000 hits a month, Grace says, and has a conversion rate that exceeds the industry norm of 2%-3%. So far, the average order size is 150%-200% higher than what the company had projected.

Golf Tournament promoted the site in the newsletter it sends to 20,000 of its catalog subscribers. It also uses keyword advertising on Internet search engines Google, Overture, and FindWatch. By midsummer, Golf Tournament plans to participate in affiliate programs as well.

To keep customers interested in the site, the company plans to begin featuring themes and special sales for gift-giving holiday such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. It also will expand its line of Nike merchandise, and next year it will launch a PDF or CD-ROM version of the online catalog.

Web address: Product category: golf apparel Launched: November 2002 Target customer: female golfers, wives of golfers Phone: 800-609-2425 Competitors:,,

Now that 60% of U.S. farmers have Internet access, Benson, MN-based spray-equipment manufacturer Red Ball launched in December to sell the parts needed to administer pesticide sprays to fields.

The 20-year-old company had in 1999 started an informational Website, at But is its first transactional site, says marketing executive Tony Fath, launched in response to “the technological advancement of today’s farmers — we’re just trying to stay with the pace.” receives approximately 5,000 visitors a month, about 200 of whom make a purchase, says Fath. Best-sellers include the company’s signature Red Ball Spray Monitor, as well as TeeJet Spray Tips and Banjo Ball Valves. The average price point is $35.88; the average order is $150, Fath says.

Red Ball has promoted the site at agricultural trade shows and through its two-year-old SprayParts print catalog, which has a circulation of 27,000. Within the next year, the company plans to expand the number of products it offers from 1,750 to 8,000-10,000.

Web address: Product category: agricultural equipment Launched: December 2002 Target customer: farmers Phone: 320-843-4932 Competitors:,

Sun Friendly Products

After her mother was diagnosed with skin cancer, Jennifer Clement and her husband, Ryan, became frustrated with the lack of clothing and accessories to protect their children from the sun. “It started as a way to find products to use for our own family — to find the best of the best in sun protection,” says Ryan Clement. It resulted in the launch of the Deerfield, FL-based Sun Friendly Products Website in November 2002.

Best-selling items include UV-blocking swimsuits for youngsters for $29.95, beach cabanas from $34.95 to $99.95, and beach umbrellas for $24.95. The site also sells outdoor play equipment such as a $69.95 Pool Sports Center Playground and a $26.95 back yard driving range. Users will also find articles promoting sun safety culled from an array of publications.

The site, which has enjoyed 30%-40% growth a month, had around 50,000 hits in February, with 2%-3% of visitors making a purchase. In mid-April, the Clements introduced the Sun Friendly Products print catalog. The 16-page book mailed to 20,000 Florida addresses it found through list rentals and requests from the site. By summer 2004, the company plans to expand its merchandise to include clothing for adults.

Web address: Product category: sun-protection products Launched: November 2002 Target customer: families with young children Phone: 866-Safe-Sun Competitors:,


On-location photography minus the location is the concept behind Seattle-based MatchLight, a Web catalog of 25,000 downloadable images for photographers. Launched in September, the site offers backdrops ranging from home interiors to golf courses to outdoor terrain.

Besides its database of images, the company sells software that better enables customers to seamlessly incorporate MatchLight’s background graphics. Images sell for $200; the software sells for $1,000.

Since the beginning of the year, MatchLight has mailed postcard advertisements each month to its house file and prospects. The company also sends 3,000 e-mails every other week to a list consisting of both customers and prospects. The site is getting 300-400 hits per day, with 15%-20% of the company’s e-mail recipients visiting the online catalog, says CEO/president Mark Ippolito.

Because the site targets commercial photographers and designers who work for advertising and publishing companies with long lead times, best-sellers have been seasonal images for six months ahead of the current season, Ippolito says. For instance, in January and February the Website received an abundance of requests for summer scenes, and in March it was starting to get requests for settings featuring autumn foliage. “We give [photographers] the ability to create scenes out of season,” Ippolito says.

Web address: Product category: graphics Launched: September 2002 Target customer: commercial photographers, graphic designers Phone: 206-448-0788 Competitors:,

New Web Catalogs

Everything Chic

Aspiring clothing designer Sara Hill launched Everything Chic last May to promote her own designs. Within a few months, however, she realized that selling merchandise from established brands would be more profitable.

Today the St. Peters, MS-based Everything Chic features brands such as BCBG Max Azria, Wabags, and AZ Max, at prices lower than in department stores. A Cousin Claudine necklace, for instance, that would ordinarily sell for $142 costs $85.20 at Everything Chic, and a BCBG mesh gown that usually sells for $260 costs $208 on the site.

Targeting fashion-forward young and middle-age women, Everything Chic also offers a selection of junior-style clothing, including Hotteez, a line of T-shirts Hill created herself. Prices range from $20 for belts and jewelry to $400 for leather jackets. The site receives more than 2,000 hits a day, and the average order size is $180. About 20% of buyers are repeat customers.

Everything Chic mailed about 2,000 copies of a 2002 holiday catalog, but Hill says that she’ll be sticking with online — rather than offline — cataloging. “You need tens of thousands of catalogs to see a [decent] response rate, and you have to have a high-enough budget to keep going with it,” Hill says. She does plan to send out a clearance catalog in December, however. In the future, the site may start selling additional leather apparel and a line of silk and Ultrasuede tops, but Hill will try to avoid selling pants and other clothing that people seem to want to try on before buying.

Web address: Product category: women’s apparel Launched: May 2002 Target customer: young and middle-age women Phone: 888-447-9933 Competitors:,

Since the early 1900s, the Gaylord Bros. catalog has sold storage and archival supplies such as stamps, shelving, and preservation tools to libraries. A century later, the Syracuse, NY-based company is expanding its reach to consumers. In January, Gaylord Bros. launched, a Website selling many of the company’s preservation tools and accessories, but in smaller quantities.

The Website’s product prices range from a $10 box of book jackets to a $2,000 leather massaging chair; other items include library basics, such as labels and trimmers, and desk accessories. Within a month of the site’s launch, it was selling an average of $500 worth of goods a day, says Gaylord Bros.’ director of e-commerce, Brian Shenker.

Gaylord Bros. has bigger plans for, Shenker adds. The company expects to expand its merchandise range to include more gift items, such as elaborate bookends, desk accessories, and furnishings, in time for the fall-holiday season.

Gaylord also plans to expand its offering of children’s furniture. Further, this fall the company expects to launch a 72-page print catalog. This first edition is scheduled to mail in October to 100,000-150,000 prospects and customers.

Web address: Product category: book preservation and reading accessories Launched: January 2003 Target customer: book and document collectors and avid readers Phone: 315-457-5070 Competitors:,,

Seton Events

To make it easier for event planners to find all the safety and identification products they need, Branford, CT-based cataloger Seton Identification Products has created a spin-off Website. While the primary Seton Website targets the safety managers at manufacturing and construction jobs, Seton Events is geared toward planners of business conferences, expositions, and other events. These event planners often need the signage, banners, and labels sold at the main Seton site, says advertising manager Janice Fowler, but they would never think to look there.

Products range from $7 signs to $195 table covers. The site averages 1,700 visitors a month, more than 2% of whom make a purchase, Fowler says. The average order size is $150; best-sellers include customized banners, trade-show badges, and booth display products. The company is planning to upgrade the site in 2004 to include Websphere, an IBM program that will speed up the transaction process on its site.

Web address: Product category: event supplies Launched: May 2002 Target customer: trade-show organizers and function planners Phone: 800-571-2596 Competitors:,,

Walpole Woodworkers

Walpole Woodworkers is finally on the Web. The 70-year-old Walpole, MA-based outdoor furnishings marketer began as a retailer; it launched a print catalog nearly 20 years ago, and this past August it debuted its Website.

Walpole Woodworkers launched the site as a way of gaining greater exposure outside the Northeast, where its 12 stores are located. Although the site accounts for only 1% of company sales so far, says director of marketing Susan Donahue, it has generated a sharp increase in the number of catalog requests.

Like the stores and the catalog, the site sells mailboxes, cupolas, birdfeeders, playhouses, fences, and outdoor furniture, with prices ranging from $12 to $800. The average order size is $200.To promote the site, Walpole Woodworkers lists the URL in its print catalog and the ads it runs in publications ranging from the Boston Globe to Martha Stewart Living.

Web address: Product category: outdoor furnishings Launched: August 2002 Target customer: women ages 30-50 Phone: 800-343-6948 Competitors:,,

New Web Catalogs


When you need more than a greeting card but a huge bouquet of flowers is too much, FreshFlowercard offers a suitable compromise.

Launched in November, the Website sells European-inspired miniature floral arrangements secured within a three-dimensional card, which is placed inside a gold-and-black gift box. The Bellevue, WA-based company targets primarily women ages 30 and older, although about 30% of its customers are men buying the cards as gifts for women. Customers have been attracted to the site largely by word of mouth, since the site has not yet done any advertising or publicity.

FreshFlowercard’s arrangements range in price from $21.95 to $26.95. The company has not yet tracked the site’s performance closely, although according to owner Carol Railton, during the holiday season it saw one or two purchases out of every 16 hits, and it was receiving 100-400 hits a day.

The company’s card and floral arrangements are what Railton calls “a hybrid product elbowed in between the card companies and the Internet-based cut-flower businesses.” Yet she sees neither type of business as FreshFlowercard’s direct competition. “It’s an independent niche, a new product and concept that doesn’t really compete with those entities,” Railton says.

Railton plans to expand product offerings to full-scale fresh-flower arrangements. The company also is working to develop partnerships with nonpolitical charities where it would donate a portion of each arrangement’s sale to the organization of the customer’s choice.

Web address: Product category: floral gifts Launched: November 2002 Target customer: women ages 30 and over, male gift-givers Phone: 877-443-7374 Competitors:,

New York-based is going after fashion-conscious 18- to-40-year-old women with its eclectic mix of handbags, jewelry, home accessories, and fragrances.

Owner Sabina Richardson, a former marketing executive, created the Website in March 2002 with her partner, Dave Zabell. Richardson likes to think of as “an online boutique offering items not found in large department stores or catalogs.” Product prices range from $3.50 for a silk coin purse in the shape of a fortune cookie to $300 for an argyle faux-fur handbag.

To market the site, Richardson placed two ads in Lucky magazine last year, which she says increased revenue fivefold. The site attracts 200 visitors each day, though during the Christmas season the number more than doubled to about 450 visitors daily. The site receives orders from 1%-2% of its visitors; the average order is $30-$50.

Richardson is considering manufacturing items such as jewelry and cosmetics on her own, to ensure consistent merchandise quality. She has no immediate plans for a print catalog, although she may launch one eventually.

Web address: Product category: gifts Launched: March 2002 Target customer: women ages 18-40 Phone: 212-249-2714 Competitors: Red Envelope,, Uncommon Goods

Apt. 5 Cosmetics

You don’t have to visit one of Duane Reade’s 230 stores in New York and its environs to buy the drugstore chain’s Apt. 5 cosmetics. When the company unveiled the line in May 2002, it also launched an Apt. 5 Website.

“We were creating a cosmetics line exclusive to Duane Reade stores in New York, and at the same time, we wanted to try it globally on a Website,” says Karen Durham, president of Clearwater, FL-based Marketing Specialists, which developed the product line as well as the Website.

The cosmetics have a low unit price, selling for $4.00-$7.50, with an average price of $6.00. The Website pulls in about 7,000 visitors each month, from which it receives about 400 orders. The average order size of $29 “exceeded our expectations,” Durham says. “We offered an incentive to increase the orders size — free shipping on orders over $25 — and it’s worked very well.”

The Apt. 5 Cosmetics line has been advertised in a host of national magazines including Glamour, Allure, People, First for Women, Parents, and Seventeen. “We don’t advertise the Website other than in the magazines,” Durham says, “and orders are coming in from all over the country.”

Durham says the company will offer new cosmetics items in the future, although she would not elaborate. Apt. 5 also is constantly changing its color mix to reflect style trends. Duane Reade has no plans to mail an Apt. 5 print catalog, however. “Because the nature of cosmetics changes so rapidly, it doesn’t make sense,” Durham says.

Web address: Product category: cosmetics Launched: May 2002 Target customer: Women ages 18-49 Phone: 212-273-5799 Competitors:,,

Viv & Ingrid

Viv & Ingrid, a four-year-old Albany, CA-based wholesaler of jewelry and accessories, is now targeting consumers with its Website. Launched in November, the site sells primarily products handmade by owners Vivian Wang and Ingrid Chen.

Viv & Ingrid merchandise is already carried by upscale retailers in 11 states, including New York’s Henri Bendel. Items range in price from $10 for a hair accessory to $200 for a necklace. The firm’s online presence was always “part of our business plan,” says Wang.

The site received about 1,500 visitors when it launched, coinciding with a promotion in Lucky magazine that promised the readers 20% off their purchase. During subsequent weeks, the number of visitors dropped to its current level of about 800 a day. The site averages three orders a day; the average sale is $100.

Wang and Chen would like to expand their merchandise line, concentrating on accessories “that are modern and fashion-forward, but also very wearable,” Wang says. A consumer print catalog will eventually be part of the company’s distribution plan, but Chen says that the emphasis for the time being is building a brand name.

Web address: Product category: jewelry and accessories Launched: November 2002 Target market: Upscale female shoppers age 25-44, male gift-givers Phone: 800-231-1878 Competitors:,

New Web Catalogs

Want to outfit your sales team in crisp new golf shirts embroidered with your company’s logo? New Website sells T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and other apparel that can be personalized with a company logo. Parent company Bizarre Promotions, a promotional marketing firm, handles online company stores for large firms such as Century 21; BusinessDuds aims to do the same for smaller companies, says Bizarre Promotions owner/founder Tim Somers. “It gives midsize companies a chance to do a company store without set-up or other fees involved.”

Since the site’s September launch, response has been “warm,” Somers says. “We’re not putting on extra staff or going crazy, but we haven’t done a full-blown marketing campaign. Response is right in line with what I expected.”

The Website’s top seller is a golf shirt; the item accounts for more than 50% of sales. Average order size hovers around $225, and the average price point is $24. The Website averages two to eight orders a day.

Somers plans to upgrade the site’s shopping cart functionality, which now forces customers to flip back and forth between screens to view items; soon the cart will show on one page all the products being bought. Somers will also promote BusinessDuds more extensively, advertising in magazines and maybe starting a radio ad campaign. So far, Somers has used press releases, direct mailers, and local trade shows to promote the Website.

Web address: Product category: casual business apparel Launched: September 2002 Target customer: companies with 250-1,000 employees Phone: 888-675-7883 Competitors: Lands’ End,


Even top-level martial artists need to take off their black belts and go casual sometimes, which is the concept behind USAMartialArtist. Founder/CEO Paul Bernard, a karate black belt, found a void in the market for branded casual product lines for martial artists. “I wanted to create that brand for the martial artist,” he says. So he developed a logo featuring a martial artist in profile, placed it on jackets, shirts, and other clothes and accessories, and in November launched the Website.

In its first month, the White Lake, MI-based site received about 500 hits and six orders, which Bernard says “is exactly where I’d hoped to be. Now that orders have started dribbling in, we expect them to come in heavier over the next month.” USAMartialArtist also mailed 10,000 print catalogs in tandem with the Website launch.

The Website had a hefty $3,000 first order — for 25 coats for a customer in Indonesia — but average Website orders are about $65; the average price point is $28.

To promote the site, Bernard discounted all coats on the Website for holiday 2002 and ran other specials, such as a free leather key chain for orders of $100 or more. Customers also receive a “special buy” offer when they receive an order, such as a discount on a gym bag. At press time, Bernard was planning to advertise in several martial arts publications, including Black Belt and Kung Fu magazines. Bernard is also considering branch off into a USAMartialArtist line of martial arts equipment and supplies.

Web address: Product category: apparel Launched: November 2002 Target customer: martial artists Phone: 248-360-5433 Competitors: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Oshman’s

Mostly Plusses

When shopping for clothing, plus-size women have long been banished to the back corner of the store and limited to styles that were rarely fashion-forward. The perils of plus-size shopping inspired entrepreneur Kim Cooke to launch Mostly Plusses in July. The Website offers deeply discounted clothing in sizes up to 24W from renowned designers such as DKNY, Ralph Lauren, and Jones New York.

Cooke says initial response was “lower than expected,” though she attributes that to the tumultuous economy and a less-than-ideal midsummer launch date. Nevertheless, she adds that the mailing list for Mostly Plusses’ opt-in monthly newsletter continues to grow, and its customer base should grow along with it.

Designed by Greensboro, NC-based Managed Information Solutions, the Website has an average order size of $100 and an average price point of $75. It attracts up to 1,000 hits a day and enables shoppers to search by size, designer, and product category. The Website’s shipping charge is a flat $5.95 regardless of the order size.

To market the Website, is currently linked to plus-sized online portals such as and Cooke this year plans to make some changes to the site, to give it “some cleaner lines in the future, and to allow for seasonal and other special promotions.”

Web address: Product category: plus-size women’s apparel Launched: July 2002 Target customer: plus-size women Phone: 800-749-1940 Competitors: Silhouettes, Avenue, Zaftique


Italian villa rental agency The Parker Co. now aims to help amuse customers once they’re in Italy with its Actividayz Website. Lynn, MA-based Parker Co., which rents villas for a week at a time, had received numerous requests from customers seeking cooking and wine-tasting classes and other local activities, so it launched Actividayz last January. The Website offers hundreds of Italian day trips.

Parker Co. vice president of sales Julie Carnevale says the initial response to Actividayz was disappointing, due to the general depressed state of the economy post-Sept. 11. “The beginning of 2002 for travel was very difficult. Probably that impacted us more than we would have hoped,” she says. Nevertheless, the company hopes to increase sales in 2003 in tandem with an overall turnaround for the travel industry.

Actividayz’ Website, designed by an outside firm, has an average price point of around $75 and attracts about 55,000 hits a month. All booking is done online; purchase confirmation takes 30 seconds, at which point a customer receives an e-mail notification. The site allows prospective customers to e-mail tours to friends, and it features a section that enables travel agents to facilitate bookings for clients. During the next six months, Actividayz plans to increase its assortment of tours, although Carnevale could not yet provide specifics.

Web address: Product category: travel Launched: January 2002 Target customer: couples and families Phone: 800-280-2811 Competitors: Italian Connection, Ciclismo Classico, Compass Travel

New Web Catalogs

Avelor Collection

When jewelry marketer Avelor Collection launched its Website in April, the site specialized in necklaces, pins, and other gifts for mothers and babies. Six months later, the site has grown to offer roughly 9,000 SKUs of jewelry and gifts for the whole family.

In addition to online, Avelor jewelry is sold in stores such as Kids ‘R’ Us. While response to the Website from previous customers “blew us away,” says founder/owner Carlos Botero, response from new customers was lower than expected. In fact, he still doesn’t “know if cataloging will work,” because consumers like to be able to see and feel jewelry before they buy it. Nonetheless, Botero is considering mass-distributing a DVD version of the online catalog, which should be cheaper than producing and mailing a print version that features the full product line.

Although Botero won’t disclose specifics, he says the number of hits has grown 20%-30% a month since the Website’s debut. Better still, September sales were 200% higher than sales during the site’s first month. Price points vary widely, from $25 for a sterling-silver pin to $1,880 for a platinum diamond ring. The average order size is $200.

Web address: Product category: jewelry Launched: April 2002 Target customer: mothers and gift-givers Phone: 866-Avelor-8 Competitors:,,

Shimmer & Stone

What started as a dinner conversation between jewelry designer Kay Wickramasinghe and e-commerce operations professional Ishan Seneviratne about sterling silver as an alternative to pricey platinum has become the jewelry Website Shimmer & Stone. Launched last December, the site sells jewelry and accessories made of sterling silver, gold, and semiprecious stones at affordable prices.

Launched with only $10,000 of seed capital, Shimmer & Stone had a “very disappointing” $2,000 in sales during its first few months, Seneviratne says. “Our timing was a little off. The dot-com boom had just collapsed.” But when the partners lowered the average price point in March from $70 to $35, sales soared, with Shimmer & Stone taking in $3,000 in sales during one week alone. At the same time, based on customer feedback, Shimmer & Stone began offering more silver jewelry. “That made the difference,” Seneviratne says. “Response was better than we anticipated.”

Shimmer & Stone’s Website, designed inhouse, started with an average order size of $60, which is now $120. The site attracts around 53,000 hits a month, with a conversion rate of 8%-9%. Although magazine advertising tests didn’t prove profitable, the company has attracted shoppers with its presence on CatalogCity and Yahoo! Shopping. Shimmer & Stone plans to release its first print catalog for Valentine’s Day 2003.

Web address: Product category: jewelry Launched: December 2001 Target customer: females 23-38 years old Phone: 800-Shimmer Competitors:,, Fair Lawn Jewelers

You Glow, Girl!

As its name (a play on the hip-hop saying “You go, girl!”) indicates, San Diego-based You Glow, Girl! is after a teen audience. The company sells skincare and sun-protection products as well as beauty-related books and videos.

Response since the site’s September launch, says owner/cofounder Dianne York-Goldman, has been “overwhelming.” York-Goldman and partner Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D., have had to add six phone lines to You Glow, Girl!’s existing three just to keep up with demand. “For the teen population, a pimple can destroy their self-esteem,” York-Goldman says. “I think this is something that is really needed.”

You Glow, Girl! has an average order size of $75. That’s also the price of the company’s popular Cool Clenz acne treatment system, though customers can purchase system items separately. The site’s average price point is around $30. York-Goldman says that You Glow, Girl! is averaging more than 100 sales a day, which includes sales to dermatology offices and boutiques.

The company has run ads in YM and Cosmo Girl magazines, to reach teens, and in Skin Inc., to attract skincare professionals. You Glow, Girl! also has distributors in Texas, California, and Nevada who sold the products about a year before the Website debuted. The marketer is also planning to launch a print catalog at some point.

Web address: Product category: skincare Launched: September 2002 Target customer: teen girls and skincare professionals Phone: 800-886-5318 Competitors:,,


Former marketing, product, and design team members from Getty Images, EyeWire, and Adobe Systems have gotten together to launch their own stock art business, Veer. Both the online and print catalogs debuted in June, selling a vast assortment of stock photography, illustrations, footage, and typefaces for use in advertising, print and Web design, corporate communications, and publishing.

Brock Bohonos, one of the founding partners of Calgary-based Veer, is “very pleased” with the response to Veer’s Website, as well he should be: The site has 300% more registrants than the company had anticipated. (Veer requires customers to register on the site before making a purchase.)

Veer has an average order size of $300. Price points range from $19 for single-font typefaces to $600 for CD image compilations. Seventy percent of Veer’s sales are online.

To help distinguish itself from the competition, Veer has signed an agreement to be the exclusive distributor of royalty-free illustrations from CSA Images, a stock art affiliate of Charles S. Anderson Design Co. The company has run a few promotions as well. For instance, at one point customers who made a purchase of at least $300 received $100 worth of reference books.

Web address: Product category: stock art Launched: June 2002 Target customer: art directors, graphic designers Phone: 877-297-7900 Competitors: Getty Images, EyeWire, Corbis

New Web Catalogs

Friends Now & Forever

Visalia, CA-based wedding accessories cataloger Now & Forever is going after the teen girls’ market with a spin-off Website, Friends Now & Forever. The site sells prom jewelry, photo frames, and other gifts. Now & Forever is a unit of Taycal Press, a subsidiary of North Mankato, MN-based manufacturer/marketer Taylor Corp.

Lori Ross, director of business development for Taycal Press, says that the company is still experimenting with a product mix that will work best for the teen audience. Personalized picture frames were a hot product, for instance, so Ross plans to focus on “what really is going to sell — anything having to do with personalization.”

Ross’s goal is to improve the site’s initial 0.0625% response rate, as the company had hoped for at least a 1% response rate. The site attracts approximately 3,000 visits a month, from which it receives six sales. Friends Now & Forever has an average order size of $20 and an average price point of $15.

To market the site, Friends Now & Forever has struck a deal with to include package inserts in shipments to the teen apparel cataloger’s customers. Friends Now & Forever also has search engine marketing deals with Yahoo! and Overture.

Ross is considering adding features such as a chat section and personalized posters to the Website. But Taycal Press has no plans to do a Friends Now & Forever print catalog.

Web address: Product category: personalized gifts Launched: July 2002 Target customer: teenage girls and parents Phone: 559-651-2011 Competitors: The Personal Touch, Personal Creations,

Hand Painted by Wendy

Inspired by the Sept. 11 terror attacks to follow her dream, Dr. Wendy Anne Tuch made a radical career change. This past July the former school administrator launched Hand Painted by Wendy, a Website selling hand-painted gifts and home products. The Website sells six categories of products: glassware, Americana, frames, furniture, “trash to treasure,” and garden products.

At press time, Tuch did not yet have specific response rates, though she says, “I made enough money to keep my business afloat until we were placed on the search engines.” (It can take several months for new Websites to be included on search engine and spider databases.) Phoenix-based Hand Painted by Wendy has a projected average order size of $225 and an average price point of $50.

Scottsdale, AZ-based World Wide Merchant designed the Website, and marketing firm Cybermark International handles search engine placement, keyword research, placement reports, and press releases. Tuch says she hopes to link with other Internet business. Linking, Tuch says, is routinely “20% of online business, according to my marketing guru.”

Web address: Product category: gifts Launched: July 2002 Target customer: baby boomers Phone: 602-696-2610 Competitors:,

Scrubs and Beyond

Realizing that busy physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals may not have time to shop for work apparel during store hours, retailer Scrubs and Beyond launched its Website in January.

The St. Louis-based company, which launched its print catalog the same time as the site, sells apparel for medical professionals that goes beyond green smocks and white jackets. For instance, the site features close-up pictures of available print patterns, allowing shoppers to preview purchases. Other site features include suggestions of items that complement products a prospective online buyer is interested in, notes president Karla Bakersmith.

Designed inhouse, the Scrubs and Beyond Website has an average order size of $120 and an average price point of $19.99; the response rate of 1% has exceeded the company’s expectations, Bakersmith says. The site attracts more than 1 million visits a month.

To market the Website, Scrubs and Beyond has sent direct mail pieces and has run print advertisements. Scrubs and Beyond also offers a 10% discount on orders of $100 or more.

Web address: Product category: medical apparel Launched: January 2002 Target customer: medical professionals Phone: 888-255-2688 Competitors: WearGuard, Moore Medical, Cintas

The Art Institute of Chicago

The world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago has had a print catalog for about 20 years; as of September, it finally has an Internet commerce site too.

The site aims to “expand the Art Institute’s profile, encourage visits to the museum, and increase the public’s appreciation of art,” says the museum’s spokesperson Eileen Harakal.

The Website offers approximately 600 items broken down in a number of categories, including apparel and accessories, books, home furnishings, jewelry, stationery, wall art, holiday-themed goods, glasswares, international goods, and architectural/design items. Prices run the gamut from $14.95 for boxed notecards to $1,475 for handcrafted furniture. Harakal won’t disclose response rates, order sizes, or sales figures.

Special features of the site include a “browse by artist” link and “the Art Institute collection,” a search tool that cross-references all products developed from the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions. Though The Art Institute is not currently advertising the Website, it offers a 10% discount to museum members.

Web address: Product category: museum goods Launched: September 2002 Target customer: gift-givers and art lovers Phone: 888-301-9612 Competitors: Metropolitan Museum of Art Store; MoMA Design Store; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

New Web Catalogs

Made in the Hudson Valley

Tarrytown, NY-based Made in the Hudson Valley sells exactly what you’d expect: more than 200 items from merchants in New York’s Hudson Valley. Products include farmstead cheeses, gourmet tarts, blown glass, pottery, and photographs.

President Leslie Gordon founded the company in March to help local farmers, artisans, specialty-food producers, and manufacturers market their goods to consumers and resellers alike. Response to Made in the Hudson Valley has been “extraordinary,” she says. “The support for who we are and what we do has been incredible. We’re probably 30%-40% ahead of where we expected to be.”

The Website has an average order size of $40 and an average price point of $35. The site attracts approximately 2,000 hits a month, receives 10-12 orders a day, and has a conversion rate of 3%-5%. Made in the Hudson Valley has full search functionality; Gordon plans to add more information about Hudson Valley area attractions to the site, as well as redesign it late next year.

To advertise the site, Gordon has run print ads in local tourism publications and in national magazines such as Town & Country. A companion black-and-white print catalog launched in July; Gordon will follow that up with a full-color version during the holiday season.

Web address: Product category: local specialty goods Launched: March 2002 Target customer: upscale men and women, ages 35-65 Phone: 914-631-1051 Competitors: Made in Oregon, Vermont Only, Signature Maine Products

Ayla’s Originals

Increased demand from bead buyers across the country prompted jewelry supplies wholesaler/retailer Ayla’s Originals to launch a Website in April. Although the site welcomes consumer hobbyists, it caters primarily to wholesale buyers for jewelry businesses, who must register with the site to receive special volume pricing.

From its Evanston, IL, store, Ayla’s Originals fulfilled numerous phone orders, “so we thought it might be a lot easier if we enable those phone customers to order over a Website,” says Website manager Alyse Middleton. The national presence of its “touring distributors,” or sales reps, “helped quite a bit in getting the word out,” she adds.

Middleton says that the Website completes 20 wholesale registrations a day, and registrants typically place their first order immediately, though some don’t make their initial order for another week or two. The average wholesale order is $173, and an average retail order is $60. Wholesale orders have a $100 minimum.

Products include Bali Silver pieces used to make jewelry that sell for $0.20-$0.30 each and pendants that sell for $15-$30 each. For the future, Middleton says she aims to add the merchandise weight to the product descriptions so that customers can better gauge their shipping costs, which are based on weight. The company is also working on a print catalog for its wholesale customers.

Web address: Product category: beads and jewelry supplies Launched: April 2002 Target customer: hobby crafters, jewelry marketers Phone: 847-328-4040 Competitors: Stormcloud Trading,

Rugs Under Foot

Customers of specialty lighting cataloger/retailer Shades of Light, a division of Richmond, VA-based Decorating to Go, have long sought additional decor products from the company. Their requests inspired Shades of Light to launch the Rugs Under Foot Website this past December. A print catalog was subsequently produced and mailed in March.

Rugs Under Foot sells myriad rug types, including hooked, Aubusson, needlepoint, hand-knotted, and hand-woven. The company is pleased with response to the site, says president Page Ward. “We feel like the Website is a must for our Rugs Under Foot marketing and sales mix,” Ward says.

Designed inhouse, the Website has an average order size of $300 and an average price point of $250. The site receives 80,000 hits a month, takes 15-20 orders a day, and has a conversion rate of 2%. The site includes a search engine and a sale section; Ward plans to develop an additional level of photo enhancement for closeup views of the construction and weave of all rugs, along with photos of rugs in customers’ homes.

Web address: Product category: home accessories Launched: December 2001 Target customer: upscale consumers Phone: 800-262-6612 Competitors:, Smith + Noble

The music industry’s vigorous prosecution of online music-swapping services such as Napster was one reason Itasca, IL-based Infinity Resources launched in May. The company wanted to tap deeper into the vast online market of value-conscious shoppers already targeted by Infinity’s Website.

As an example of the company’s deep discounting, Infinity Resources CEO/owner Dennis Abboud says his shipped price of $9.89 for P. Diddy’s newest release was at the least 31% lower than’s price and up to 76% lower than the price at “The people who were file-swapping [downloading music without buying it] were looking for the best value in online music,” Abboud says. In addition to a lowest total price guarantee, the Website offers free standard shipping on all orders.’s launch followed Infinity’s acquisition of music cataloger Collectors’ Choice Music this past December. Although Collectors’ Choice Music offered a relatively narrow range of titles, Abboud says, the acquisition provided Infinity with valuable record-label contacts.

Abboud reports that the Website is receiving more orders than expected. “We forecasted it to be comparable to DeepDiscountDVD in total order volume, and it’s running about 20% ahead at the same stage of maturity,” he says. The site attracts 8 million hits a month and has a conversion rate of 3.5%.

Web address: Product category: music CDs Launched: May 2002 Target customer: music shoppers Phone: 800-258-1995 Competitors:,,,

New Web Catalogs

Onley Make Believe

Want to personalize your home or office with one-of-a-kind decorative pillows and table accents? The Onley Make Believe Website, launched in November 2001, sells cotton and linen pillows and table linens designed by founder Gerard Onley. Prices range from $95 for cotton-blend pillows to $275 for linen pillows.

The Website was designed inhouse to feature the company’s complete product selection and to include information about the designer and his custom creations. Onley Make’s site averages 125 hits and up to three orders a day; its average order size is two to four pillows. The company’s customers are typically upscale women in their early 30s.

Onley credits “search engines, press releases, direct mail, and word of mouth” with driving traffic to the site. He also periodically mails postcards to the approximately 3,000 inquirers who have requested information from his site.

In addition, “link exchanges with other interior design and furnishing companies have been very helpful in referring customers to the site,” Onley says, although “maintaining link pages and keeping a consistency with the site’s clean and simple format can be a challenge.”

For the remainder of the year, Onley plans to add more pillows, placemats, and table runners to his product line as well as to expand his Website to promote his contract and specialty design services.

Web address: Product category: home decor Launched: November 2001 Target: women in their 30s Phone: 415-885-2557

The January launch of the Website couldn’t have been timed better. The first of the three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had opened just weeks earlier and was filling the theaters.

Florence, KY-based sells more than 600 SKUs of collectibles based on the Lord of the Rings series, including maps, books, games, and action figures. Prices range from $2 for a keychain to $1,000 for a replica of the One Ring that drives the action of the books and films.

With this Website, Jeremy Pryor, along with his wife April and partner Amber Seely, turned his hobby as a Tolkien collector into a business. IT Management Corp., an information technology consulting firm that specializes in small businesses, built the site.

“We promote through banner ads placed on Lord of the Rings and Tolkien fan sites. We also use keywords on search engines,” says Pryor. The site generates more than 500 hits and 12 orders a day. The average order size is $35. also includes customer-written product reviews, a message board, and a cross-selling section. “Our site tells customers what other customers who purchased that item also bought,” says Pryor. The goal for next year is to register 2,000 new accounts and to “offer every Tolkien product possible.”

Web address: Product category: Lord of the Rings collectibles Launched: January 2002 Target: science fiction and fantasy aficionados Phone: 859-525-8186

Like Peter Pan, brothers Greg and Dave Grodzicki admit that they “didn’t want to grow up.” To circumvent that fate, they opted to launch instead. “This seemed like the perfect vehicle to try new things and share them with others,” says Greg Grodzicki. The site, which launched last summer, sells “extreme lifestyle” accessories, from water-balloon launchers for $14.99 to high-performance gas-powered inline skates for $899.99. The Ortonville, MI-based company also sells clothing and high-tech gifts such as a gas-engine-powered drink blender.

The company is “considering a print catalog,” Grodzicki says, but for now it relies on banner ads and word of mouth to attract customers, who are primarily men. The site generates approximately 60 hits a day with an average order size of $50-$150. To create stickiness and generate return visits, offers value-added tips, photo contests, and e-mail accounts for its customers.

To expand its target market, “we’re going after more ‘traditional’ extreme products,” Grodzicki says, though he won’t share specifics. RebelGear will also explore alternative marketing and advertising methods, such as hosting an extreme-sports trade show next spring and sponsoring players and teams.

Web address: Product category: gadgets and sporting equipment Launched: August 2001 Target: men ages 18-50 Phone: 248-886-0092


Here’s a dreamy gift idea for the women in your life: a luxurious set of pajamas wrapped in a keepsake hatbox with a personalized card and a “do not disturb” sign, available from new Website

Launched for Mother’s Day 2002, is a spin-off from Shelburne, VT-based stuffed-bears cataloger/retailer Vermont Teddy Bear Co. “Initial sales have exceeded expectations by 30%,” says CEO Elisabeth Robert. With a conversion rate topping 8%, the site generated more than 6,000 visitors and 500 orders a day at its peak in early May.

The Website, which boasts the slogan “In a world that’s bananas, send some pajamas!” sells 60 sleepwear styles as well as bath and body products. Prices range from $29 for classic cotton PJs to $135 for Egyptian silk sleepwear.

While most of the initial response came from radio commercials, also receives a “healthy” conversion rate from sister site Vermont Teddy Bear and search engine optimization, “which drives approximately 5% of our sales,” Robert says. The company plans to expand its product selection to include spa-themed books and CDs. It will also implement cross-sell strategies and offer online gift certificates.

Web address: Product category: sleepwear and gifts Launched: May 2002 Target: women, gift shoppers Phone: 800-Give-PJs

New Web Catalogs

Imagine receiving books online within seconds of placing an order. An e-books Website launched in January offers customers the instant gratification they seek., based in Wichita, KS, sells books about starting and building online businesses. Buyers can purchase the books individually or in prepackaged sets that cost 60% less than the titles would cost if purchased individually. Although the e-books are typically fulfilled online, founder/owner Richard Young says that if a customer requests a disc, he can send the products via CD.

While Young says that it is too soon to calculate the site’s response rate, he admits that business is slower than he expected. To jump-start sales, Young has reduced the price of the book packages from $40-$50 to about $19. “I just wanted to get some response going and build a list of people,” he says. The site’s average order size is $49.

As another way to build a list, the site offers promotions, such as a free book on home security, to visitors who provide their e-mail address. Young plans to expand the product line to include clothing, household items, and other home goods in a section to be called The Guru’s Stuff.

Web address: Product category: e-books Launched: January 2002 Target customers: Web entrepreneurs

Sol Bride

The bridal-gown business is forever booming, but when it comes to finding the right undergarments for the big day, many brides are hung out to dry. New Website Sol Bride intends to change that by offering a large collection of bridal undergarments and accessories in a full range of sizes.

The Website, designed by Prescott, AZ-based Gretel Hakanson, went up this past August. Founders/owners Jeanie Peterson and Cindy Johnson also run the five-year-old Sol-Store of Lingerie in Denver and the year-old print catalog.

Operations manager Janelle Kenny says that the response rate has been “fabulous,” though she admits that Sol Bride did not know quite what to expect. Many customers have ordered from the site without being aware of the print catalog, which the company hadn’t anticipated. Kenny says that Sol Bride requires Web customers to call in orders due to various sizing complexities. To cut down on returns, Sol Bride created its own sizing system capturing four specific measurements to fit its bustiers.

Although other merchants such as Victoria’s Secret offer bridal undergarments, Kenny says that Sol Bride offers a larger selection than its less-specialized competitors. The site generates 5-10 sales a day and receives 240,000 hits a month. The average order is a three- to five-piece set of bridal undergarments, including a bustier, panties, and stockings, priced on average at $100-$220.

To promote the Website, Sol Bride runs full-page advertisements in magazines such as Martha Stewart’s Weddings and Modern Bride, and it is looking to advertise with wedding Websites. At press time, Sol Bride had just completed the transition from black-and-white to full-color photography. The company is considering adding a search engine to the site, but Kenny says Sol Bride will wait for more response from customers before moving forward with additional changes.

Web address: Product category: bridal undergarments Launched: August 2001 Target customer: upscale brides Phone: 800-684-4854

Amazing Mugs

A love of American history inspired Nathan Rudy to launch Amazing Mugs. An avid collector of images from America’s past, Rudy decided to put these images, along with art and humor designs, on mugs for sale on a Website.

Amazing Mugs will also create custom mugs, designed around artwork or slogans sent by the customer. After customers approve of the design via e-mail, Rudy sends the images to for fulfillment.

The average order size for North Plainfield, NJ-based Amazing Mugs is about $37; each mug costs $14.99, although Rudy says he offers bulk discounts. Shipping costs $4.30 for the first mug ordered and approximately $1.00 for each additional mug.

As a promotional tool, Amazing Mugs runs a contest each month for subscribers to its e-newsletter. In addition, Rudy says, submissions to search engines Yahoo! and Google have increased traffic to the Website.

Amazing Mugs logs 12,000 unique visits a month, with an average conversion rate of one in 350 visitors. The site averages five to six sales a day. This past holiday season, response to the personalization service was “so amazing that I had to stop doing it because I couldn’t keep up with the demand myself,” Rudy says.

Web address: Product category: coffee mugs Launched: November 2001 Target customer: coffee and tea drinkers, art and history enthusiasts

Books of Wonder

A big believer in quality rather than quantity, Peter Glassman, president/founder of kid’s bookstore Books of Wonder, launched a Website in October. Like the New York bricks-and-mortar store, the Books of Wonder site sells a lovingly selected assortment of new and vintage books for children.

Prices for new hardcover books are typically $14-$25; antique books range from $20 to several thousand dollars; and artwork from children’s books ranges from about $300 to as much as $25,000. Books of Wonder is also a book publisher; the company works with Harper Collins and Sea Star Books, providing it additional exposure.

The Website’s median sale is $85, and it reaps about six transactions a day. Glassman says sales are above expectations, given that company has not yet launched a full-scale marketing campaign. He plans to add to the site the ability to refer parents to books for their children, based on initial choices.

Books of Wonder held a “thank-you sale” in January and February, offering 30% off the price of popular books to show appreciation for customers’ support in the wake of the Sept. 11 devastation. Glassman says that the company is developing an online marketing partnership with a family-oriented Website, though he declines to specify which one.

Web Address: Product category: children’s books Launched: October 2001 Target customer: parents of young children Phone: 800-835-4315

New Web Catalogs

Collegiate Pacific

In January, two years after it debuted an informational Website, sports equipment manufacturer/marketer Collegiate Pacific launched an commerce-enabled version of the site.

The site sells 3,000 products, ranging from batting cages to soccer goals to tennis nets. Collegiate Pacific sells its proprietary brands of products (Edwards tennis equipment, Funnets soccer gear, and Markersmart field marking equipment) as well as items from brands such as Wilson, Rawlings, and Spalding. The company targets 200,000 schools, parks, youth centers, and government and correctional facilities nationwide. Currently, the $18 million Dallas-based company has a customer base of 35,000, says president Adam Blumenfeld, and adds 1,000 new customers a month.

Customers can use the site to check account status, print an order form, get assembly instructions, process a return, track an order, or contact a division head. The site is fully integrated into the company’s back-end software so that price and product changes are instant, says Blumenfeld, which helps to “prevent a phone call on both ends.”

To promote the site, Collegiate Pacific uses e-mail and fax broadcasts, online ordering incentives, such as “buy one get one free,” and refer-a-friend programs. The company also advertises the site through its print catalog and includes the URL on its products and all promotional literature.

Web address: Product category: sports equipment Launched: January 2002 Target: institutions Phone: 888-566-8966

Pennsylvania Correctional Industries

Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI), a division of the state’s Department of Corrections, launched a Website in October 2001 to sell its Big House brand of products to governments and nonprofit organizations. Because the goods are made by the prison inmates, by law, PCI can sell only to government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Products available on the site include personal-care items such as soaps; containers and bags; food; cleaners; and recreation and storage solutions, such as picnic tables and storage barns. By April, PCI plans to add several new product categories including apparel and furniture.

The site employs more than 1,900 inmates at 18 institutions, says PCI director Marc Goldberg. The money from all sales generated goes back into the site and the work program.

At about 100 hits and two or three sales, initial response to the site met expectations, says Goldberg. PCI promotes the site at trade shows and conferences as well as advertises in journals that target eligible customers, such as Township Commissioner Association. Before customers can place an order, they must fill out an application for eligibility.

At press time, a newly redesigned print catalog based on the Website was set to mail in late January.

Web address: Product category: general merchandise Launched: October 2001 Target: government agencies and nonprofit groups Phone: 877-Order-CI


Is it time to replace that crusty, stained coffee mug sitting on your desk? Then check out Wondermugs. The Clifton, VA-based company launched its Website in December to sell its line of coffee mugs. Wondermugs, which merged with its Point Marion, PA-based manufacturer Houze Glass in August 2000, is a wholly owned subsidiary of holding company Wilson Brothers USA.

Wondermugs uses thermochromatic, or heat-sensitive, inks that change the design and color of a mug when a hot beverage is poured into it. The mugs come in more than 60 styles with varying themes, including sports, nature, holidays, and occupations. Prices are $10.95 or $11.95 a mug; the average order is $20-$40.

Founded by Jim Simpson in 1994, Wondermugs sells to consumers and wholesalers via craft shows, festivals, and holiday kiosks in shopping malls. Wondermugs have also been featured on the Home Shopping Network and QVC. The Website is geared primarily to consumers.

At press time, the site could not process credit-card information; customers e-mail the online order form to the factory or fax or phone in their order. But by the end of the first quarter, the company expects the site to be fully commerce-enabled, says Simpson, who now serves as executive vice president for the Wondermugs division of Houze Glass.

While Simpson describes response to the site as good, he would like it to be higher. “We just scratched the surface of what the potential could be,” he says. To help promote its site and print catalog (launched in 1996), Wondermugs includes a card in every mug with the catalog name and the URL.

Web address: Product category: mugs Launched: December 2001 Target: consumers Phone: 800-Wndrmug


Encinitas, CA-based general merchandise emporium Addie’s launched its e-commerce site in December, three years after the debut of its informational site.

Addie’s sells everything from apparel and apothecary items to collectibles and pet accessories. The site also enables visitors to e-mail questions to an antiquities expert and the company’s resident chef. The Website targets women ages 29-65 with an annual household income of at least $90,000. The average order is $150.

Response to the site has been decent, says marketing manager Julianna Firtel, with 400 hits within the first few weeks of its launch. It helps that Addie’s is often cited in the “where to buy” sections of magazines such as Elle Decor. Addie’s also advertises in local magazines geared to its target audience, and the company planned to rent lists after the holidays for promotional mailings.

The company already sends mailings to its 40,000-name house file, the remains of its now-defunct print catalog. Launched in 1998, the catalog ceased operation after holiday 2000 because it was too expensive to maintain, Firtel says. But Addie’s plans to mail a 24-page catalog this summer as a Web traffic driver, she adds.

Web address: Product category: general merchandise Launched: December 2001 Target: affluent women, ages 29-65 Phone: 877-423-3437

New Web Catalogs

For seven years Recollections has sold personalized photobooks through retailers and catalogers such as Wal-Mart, Eckerd, and Neiman Marcus; for three years it has also produced its own catalog. Now the Valhalla, NY-based marketer has brought its service online, with the August launch of

Customers can use the Website to create their own My Picture Book, a hardcover book of digital photos, says Recollections CEO Carl Navarre. Books can be covered in linen or leather, and are printed on acid-free paper so that customers can include their own words to accompany their pictures. The average price point is $29.95 (which takes into account a coupon available on the site good for $10 off) for a standard 10-page book.

Once customers sign in on the site, they can upload their scanned or digital photos. (Customers who do not have digital photos can mail their pictures to the company, which will scan them and make available on the site via a password.) Through Recollections’ proprietary Easy Publisher feature, which uses an automated layout system, customers can design a book of up to 60 photos in less than a minute.

Response to the site has been higher than expected, Navarre says, generating 250-300 orders a day. In December, Recollections started a three-month partnership with Eckerd’s Express Photo Labs offering a free My Picture Book to customers who order their photos delivered on Eckerd’s Photo CD-ROM. Recollections also advertises with direct links on AOL and

Web address: Product category: photo albums Launched: August 2001 Target customers: women with children, gift-givers, and amateur photographers Phone: 800-432-8290

MGM Grand Collection

Old Hollywood goes high-tech on the MGM Grand Collection site, which sells digitally restored portraits of vintage Hollywood stars such as Lauren Bacall and Clark Gable. Columbus, OH-based art consultancy Stingray Studios partnered with the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas to sell photos of about 100 stars. After starting an information-only site in July, they launched the Web store in October.

The limited-edition portraits are culled from the 1,000 photographs in the MGM Grand Collection, which Stingray Studios president Seth Harris collected from various archives, restored, and framed to decorate the MGM Grand and 3,800 of its 5,000 guest rooms. In June, MGM Grand introduced a 48-page catalog of the images, copies of which are left in the guest rooms. And in July the hotel opened a kiosk selling the photos in its Art of Entertainment store. Allowing guests to purchase the artwork seen in the hotel “extends the hotel’s brand experience from the guest’s stay to the guest’s home,” says Harris.

The site received 1,000-2,000 hits a week in July, and the number continues to increase, but initial response has been a little below plan, says Harris. The average order is about $300, with average price points of $275-$400 (framed). The best-seller so far is a photo of Humphrey Bogart, says Harris.

Web address: Product category: photography Launched: October 2001 Target customer: movie enthusiasts Phone: 888-302-4935


Elyria, OH-based Invacare Corp., a manufacturer/distributor of home medical products, launched its business-to-business e-commerce site in July.

The site offers 40,000 SKUs, including respiratory and rehabilitation products, wheelchairs, and beds. Although Invacare distributors are the primary target market, the site also provides consumers with information about the company’s merchandise and the stores nearest them that sell particular products.

Response to the site is growing steadily, says vice president of e-commerce Steve Neese. Online sales for the month of October, for instance, were double those of September. As of November, 3,000 of Invacare’s 10,000 distributors were registered with the site, with 40% of them using it to place orders. The other distributors have been using the site to check product availability, invoices, and other transactional data. The average order size is $1,100.

The site was designed inhouse, with e-business applications from BroadVision. To help promote the site, Invacare displayed it at trade show Med Trade in New Orleans in October. It also puts ads in electronic newsletters specific to its industry and buys ads in trade magazines such as HME News. Television ad campaigns for its products also list the Website. Next year, more focus will be on the company’s sales force to promote the site, says Neese.

The company hopes to add more content to the site, including an area to teach technicians how to fix Invacare products and a clinical content section for respiratory and rehabilitation specialists.

Web address: Product category: home medical products Launched: July 2001 Target customers: distributors, caregivers, consumers over 50, and disabled consumers Phone: 800-333-6900

Although sells books, its focus is to provide parents with the tools that teachers use to enhance reading ability, says creator/founder Melissa Pino.

Launched in July, the Website provides a free reading evaluation/assessment for children ages 2-10; after users complete the test, the site leads them to a page that describes the child’s developmental reading level and recommends appropriate books. The books, designed to help advance a child’s reading level, can be found in schools nationwide but are not available in traditional bookstores.

With 200-500 hits a day, the site has exceeded Pino’s expectations. The average order size is $30 for three books; each book costs $10.99. To help promote the site, Pino put together a press release package with the Dell Computer site, and can be found in Yahoo! search engines.

In the spring, Pino plans to market her own line of reading books. She is also considering adding a math line to the site to help children with multiplication and division.

Web address: Product category: educational supplies Launched: July 2001 Target customers: parents and educators Phone: 609-272-8600

New Web Catalogs

Thanks to the Web, the 20,000 retailers of The Boyds Collection line of stuffed bears and other gifts and collectibles can place orders and get customer service questions answered round the clock. Manufacturer/marketer Boyds launched its business-to-business Website,, in February. In addition to enabling retailers to track shipments and invoice/order status, the site provides product information and recommendations.

Designed by Website design studio, the site was promoted at gift trade shows. Boyds also sent its retailers a letter and a special password to access the site. The promo push helped garner the site a much better initial response rate than expected. CEO Jean-Andre Rougeot says the site receives 300-400 hits a day, and after three months had received 2,500 retail visitors. The site’s average order size is $1,200.

Looking ahead, plans to sell an exclusive Boyds Bear that can be purchased only on the site.

Web address: Product category: wholesale collectibles Launched: February Target customer: retailers Phone: 717-633-7770


The church market can sing praise about being able to purchase supplies online at ChurchPlaza. The Sarasota, FL-based company, established in 1989 as the Christian Purchasing Network (CPN), launched its business-to-business site in March.

ChurchPlaza sells supplies in more than 50 product categories, including lighting, carpet and flooring, and architectural products such as crosses and stained glass. It targets the 370,000 churches in the United States as well as ministries and related institutions such as church schools. For specialty orders, such as theater seating or pews, churches can research products online and then call or e-mail a ChurchPlaza representative to place the order.

The site, which currently accounts for less than 3% of the company’s business, promotes “product and brand building,” says founder/CEO Dr. Thomas McElheny. ChurchPlaza already supplies 36 major denominations and associations representing 120,000 churches, from which it has endorsements and links to its site. The company also has an internal sales force and a national network of field sales representatives.

Designed by Chicago-based Internet design firm BaseSix, the site receives 10,000 visitors a week, and has an average order size of $10,000. The site also provides a roster of recommended architects and builders along with construction and remodeling services and information about its denominational programs. At press time, the company was adding other services, such as property and casualty insurance.

Web address: Product category: church supplies Launched: March Target customer: churches, ministries, and related institutions Phone: 800-927-6775


The past year has been a whirlwind of activity for royalty-free images provider Dynamic Graphics. The Peoria, IL-based company was bought by holding company Creatas in December 2000. Dynamic Graphics then discontinued its Creative Solutions catalog in March — only to launch stock photography, cinematography, and illustration Website Creatas and a companion print catalog in June.

To promote the site, Dynamic Graphics sent an e-mail blast to its customer base, which includes subscribers to the company’s monthly newsletters. With 150-220 hits and 80-100 sales a day, the site is doing “extremely well,” says marketing director Chuck Boysen.

The number of unique visitors is higher than projected, although the number of customers is lower than projected, Boysen says. The site has a visitor-to-buyer conversion rate of 5.8%, and the average order size is $50. To increase the average order, the site offers $100 off the purchase of any two images collections, each of which costs $329-$549.

Features of the site include free image reselection, which enables customers to download previously purchased single images without additional cost for up to six months following their initial transaction. By the end of August, the company was set to launch its Australian and U.K. Creatas sites.

Web address: Product category: royalty-free images Launched: March Target customer: graphics professionals Phone: 800-255-8800


For more than 10 years, Los Angeles-based Cottura has been selling Renaissance-inspired handpainted Italian ceramics in its stores and print catalog. Now consumers can buy Cottura’s merchandise on the company’s Website, which launched in March.

Cottura sells 40 lines of dinnerware and accessories, as well as decorative products for the home and garden such as planters, spoon holders, and canisters. For now, the site sells a “subset of the catalog products,” says president/co-owner Jim Zimmerman. Since the products are imported from Italy, the site offers only merchandise that is readily available. The site’s best-sellers so far are its biscotti jars.

Prices on the site range from $18 to $3,500; the site’s average order size is $225. Designed inhouse and hosted by eToll, the site receives an average of 25-50 sales a week, a response rate 25% higher than projected, says Zimmerman.

By the holiday season, Cottura plans to add more of its product line to the site, as well as a bridal registry and Italian cultural and informational pages with links to travel and recipe sites. The company also plans to share Web links with three major museums.

Web address: Product category: Italian ceramics Launched: March Target customer: women, 35 and older Phone: 800-348-6608

New Web Catalogs

Aramark Uniform Services

Although Burbank, CA-based work apparel marketer Aramark Uniform Services had an information-only site for three years, in March it launched an online catalog with e-commerce capabilities. The site now sells work apparel, including jeans, boots, and polo shirts, as well as accessories such as clipboards and safety vests to managers of auto body shops, restaurants, and hotels, among other businesses.

The site enables customers to view garments in all available colors and find out if the items are in stock. Uniforms can be personalized with company names or slogans, and garments can be exchanged if an employee leaves the company. Aramark is offering Website discounts, which will vary from month to month by 10%-20%. Customers can also request a personal uniform adviser to contact them about options for uniform leasing.

In fact, Aramark Uniform Services’ primary business is rentals. But it aims to expand its audience to include companies that may have a rental program with someone else but now want to buy products as well, says e-business manager Keith Gosselin.

Since the e-commerce launch, traffic to Aramark’s site has increased 30%, Gosselin says. Prices range from $15 to $100; the site’s average order size is $200. The site receives 10,000 hits a day, and the visitor conversion rate is about 2%.

Web address: Product category: business uniforms and apparel Launched: March 2001 Target customer: auto body shops, hotels, restaurants Phone: 800-785-2299

S&S Worldwide

Having operated an information-only Website since 1997, business-to-business cataloger S&S Worldwide, based in Colchester, CT, launched its e-commerce-enabled site in April.

The site’s 15,000 SKUs are largely bulk supplies of sporting goods and recreation products, from construction paper to bleachers, targeting schools, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, day-care centers, and the like. Designed inhouse, the site still offers informational features, such as downloadable activity guides for instructors.

To help drive traffic, the company places an 8-1/2″ × 11″ insert promoting the site in all outgoing packages. S&S Worldwide also e-mails advertisements promoting the site to its customer file.

The site received 160,000 hits in April and five times as many visitors as it had received the previous month, says Webmaster Sarah VanDyke-Ewan. There is a $50 minimum required to place an order on the site. On average, about 24 orders are placed a day, says creative director Mike Fosso. In the future, customers who place an order will receive e-mails along. with their shipping information and tracking number.

Web address: Product category: institutional recreation products Launched: April 2001 Target customer: schools, recreation centers, hospitals, therapy and rehabilitation clinics Phone: 800-243-9232

Fancy a hand-knitted leather wedding dress? You can find one at, launched in March by New York-based designer Mimi-Olga Vaduvescu.

The items, which are knitted by Vaduvescu from — yes — leather, include evening dresses, jackets, and shawls. The apparel is made to order and ranges in price from $40 to $25,000. Within two weeks of ordering, buyers of evening dresses receive a six-inch version of the dress and a swatch of the leather knit. Finished products are delivered within four to six weeks of purchase. Since the products are made to order, there is no return policy.

Articles about Vaduvescu and her site appeared in Los Angeles-based fashion magazine First Hold and FIT Network, a magazine for fashion industry students, which Vaduvescu says helped promote

At press time, the site was generating about 300 hits a month. Vaduvescu plans to add products to the site by the end of the year and expects to launch another leather accessories and apparel site,, before the holiday season. Vaduvescu is also considering launching a print catalog within the year.

Web address: Product category: women’s apparel Launched: March 2001 Target customer: fashion-forward women, 20-40 years old Phone: 212-233-7834

Fulfillment problems led snack purveyor Nabisco to fold its five-year-old print catalog last year. But they didn’t prevent the manufacturer of Oreos, LifeSavers, Planters nuts, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, Mallomars, and other tasty treats from launching a Website,, in December.

The Parsippany, NJ-based Nabisco’s Website bundles its food gifts in collectible, reusable containers, such as picnic baskets or CD crates. Each package comes in a white box with a red ribbon, along with a customized gift card. The average order size is $40, though the figure rises somewhat around holidays, says Nabisco vice president of e-business Wayne Shurts. The site was designed inhouse and is hosted by Digital River.

To help drive traffic, placed an ad in the Penn Media electronic newsletter in January: Consumers who registered on the site were eligible to win Nabisco products free for one year. Of the 25,000 who clicked on the ad, 80% entered the contest and opted in to receive Nabisco e-mails; Nabisco followed up with a Valentine’s Day e-mail. Of the 20,000 recipients of that e-mail, 6% clicked through to the offer, and 10% of those — 120 people in all — made a purchase. Overall, though, the site reaps an average of 100 sales a day and 175,000 hits a month, says Nabisco’s director of e-business, Tom Garvin.

Looking ahead, plans to extend its product line to include logoed apparel within the year. And Nabisco (a division of Chicago-based Kraft Foods) is even considering relaunching its print catalog.

Web address: Product category: food gifts Launched: December 2000 Target customer: gift-givers Phone: 866-56-GIFTS

New Web Catalogs


Stuffed bears marketer The Vermont Teddy Bear Co. (VTBC) is branching out. Its gifts Website, SendAmerica, sells 250 handcrafted U.S.-made items ranging from jewelry to gourmet foods.

The site, a fully owned subsidiary of Shelburne, VT-based VTBC, was designed inhouse and went live in November. Each SendAmerica item comes with a personalized gift card and information about the product and the artisan. Offering a wider selection of products than VTBC, this new site “will appeal to a wider group of shoppers,” says director Tom Clark.

To help drive traffic, a link for SendAmerica is located on VTBC’s site. Shoppers on the VTBC and SendAmerica sites are primarily of men 24-54 years old. The site’s initial visitor conversion rate of 1.5%-2% was in line with expectations, Clark says. The average order is about $49.

Visitors can search the site by product category or state of product origin. The site is also encouraging visitors to register to become a “SendAmerican” — a member of the customer loyalty club. Members are entitled to product discounts, and visitors who register will automatically be entered into a monthly sweepstakes drawing for a $150 shopping spree.

Within the next four months, SendAmerica plans to double the number of SKUs it offers. It is also preparing to launch a print catalog in time for the holiday season.

Web address: Product category: handcrafted gifts Launched: November 2000 Target customer: mostly males, ages 24-54 Phone: 877-592-6374

The Vermont Country Store

The Vermont Country Store specializes in old-time general-store items — everything from funnel cakes to dickies to tiddlywinks. So it’s no surprise that the company took its good old time in launching a Website.

The site, which launched in October, offers a number of newfangled niceties, such as live chat and “catalog quick order” (in which customers can simply type in the product number from the print catalog rather than find the product on the site). In creating the Website, the cataloger decided it was important that customers be able to do everything online they could do offline, says Larry Shaw, vice president, marketing, Internet and creative. Although the site was designed inhouse, the Manchester Center, VT-based Vermont Country Store hired Competitive Computing to build the architecture, create the coding, and engineer the site.

Prices range from $4.99 to $200, with the majority of products costing less than $30. The average order size is $50. The site targets baby boomers, primarily female, ages 40-60. That’s a younger market than that of the print catalog, whose main audience is over age 55. Although Shaw won’t discuss the specifics of conversion rates and sales, he does say the initial response rate and sales were stronger than expected.

Web address: Product category: general merchandise Launched: October 2000 Target customer: women 40-60 years old Phone: 802-362-8460

Launched in January, offers professionals and consumers an online source of more than 2,000 off-price medical supplies and daily-living aids for people with disabilities.

The products, which fall into such categories as bathroom aids, syringes, orthopedic goods, and wound care, are discounted at 20% below retail. Prices range from $1 to $3,000. Owned by managed-care provider Health Direct, the site receives about 2,000 hits a week, says David Lally, director of communications.

Ninety percent of buyers, who spend an average of $100 an order, are group purchasers, such as physicians, insurance companies, discharge hospitals, and managed-care organizations, Lally says. Consumers purchasing directly from the site currently account for about 10% of the business, but Lally expects this number to increase: Because it can be difficult for disabled and elderly consumers to shop around offline for the best price, more and more of them are shopping via the Net.

DirectDME accommodates third-party reimbursements from consumers’ health care plans. A customer can also have DirectDME submit the claim for payment directly to his insurance provider or Worker’s Compensation plan. The site can handle all the necessary back-end verification of member and benefits eligibility and insurance precertification. Once DirectDME submits the claim, the consumer receives a phone call or an e-mail informing him of the amount owed.

Web address: Product category: durable medical equipment Launched: January 2001 Target customer: managed-care organizations, insurance companies, disabled consumers Phone: 877-496-7461


Its name says it all: DeepDiscountDVD sells movies on digital video disc at low prices. Launched in February by Chicago-based Infinity Resources, DeepDiscountDVD offers thousands of movies in a wide variety of genres, both classic and contemporary. Customers can search by title, actor, genre, price range, or MPAA rating. The company plans to add more titles in the future and a feature that allows customers to check their account status.

The company also sells classic and hard-to-find videos online via its other site,, and in its print catalog counterpart, Critics’ Choice Video. While Critics’ Choice Video (which Infinity acquired from Playboy Enterprises) sells largely to consumers 50 and older, the new DVD site captures consumers 22-35 years old, says director of Internet marketing David Barker.

So far, Barker says, DeepDiscountDVD is generating an “overwhelming” response. At press time it was averaging 6 million hits a month, 100% better than expected. This could be due in part to the exposure and positive feedback the site has received in DVD chat rooms online. A radio advertising campaign featuring a promotional code to be used for a 10% discount on shoppers’ first orders also helped drive traffic, Barker says.

Web address: Product category: DVDs Launched: February 2001 Target customer: DVD buyers/collectors, ages 22-35 Phone: 800-264-5076

New Web Catalogs

From a lavender line by Rona Barrett to retro gear for bowlers, these new online catalogs speak to the unique.

Thanks to demand for all things retro, is on a roll. Launched as a full-fledged e-commerce site in August 2000 (it was an information-only site for a year prior), it sells a broad range of bowling shirts and bowling-related accessories, with an emphasis on ’50s-inspired styles. Prices range from $2.95 for themed shot glasses to $69.95 for fully embroidered shirts. The merchandise is similar to that offered by its St. Louis-based parent company, Cruisin’ USA, which also produces a print catalog.

Webmaster Jason Schankman, who designed and markets the site, says the company also has a strong niche in custom-order shirts for companies with inhouse bowling teams; clients include Sun Micro Systems, Newsweek magazine, and MTV. The Website accounted for half of Cruisin’ USA’s approximately $2 million in sales last year, but Schankman expects it to account for a somewhat greater share of sales this year.

To grow the Web business, Schankman has forged partnerships with the Bowling Hall of Fame and Websites such as (an online fanzine for the HBO series The Sopranos), with links to and ads for his site. Also, coverage in December in InStyle and Time magazines helped to increase traffic.

Web address: Product category: bowling shirts Launched: August 2000 Target customer: bowlers and vintage-clothing enthusiasts ages 25-55 Telephone: 800-444-1685

Lavender by Rona

Former gossip maven Rona Barrett is seeing purple — or rather, lavender. In December, Barrett launched Lavender by Rona, a Website selling lavender-based products, from antiaging creams to chocolates, teas, and mayonnaise.

So far, Barrett says, much of her site traffic has come from fans doing a Rona Barrett name search online. She’d previously posted a holding page where fans could leave their e-mail addresses, from which she has built her e-mail list. She sends these requesters announcements about site events and product launches.

“I was growing lavender at my ranch in Santa Barbara, CA, and was searching for a way to give back to the world through my products and foundation,” Barrett says. A portion of the profits are donated to the Rona Barrett Foundation, which helps seniors in need.

The site was designed by Santa Barbara-based, which processes the orders as well. The site also features a chat function, “Talk with Rona,” where fans can ask Barrett questions as well as get on the list for a newsletter and, of course, dish Hollywood gossip.

Web address: Launched: December 2000 Product category: beauty products and specialty gifts Target customer: lavender enthusiasts ages 35 and older Telephone: 805-653-0465 may seem like a “for men only” site, but it is in fact designed to appeal to women. “Women of all ages make the majority of the buying decisions in a household,” says founder/president Douglas E. Witt. “We’ve created a site to help women buy gifts for men and boys that are beyond the old shirt and tie.”

Indeed, the site, launched in November 2000, has unusual items for every guy — from a mounted giant praying mantis (dead, under glass) for $92 to Leica Digilux cameras at $749 to $1,300 Suunto wrist-top diving computers. If these don’t seem like items women would ordinarily purchase for men, that’s the point. TheGuyStore “is positioned as the place for stuff guys want,” Witt says.

An advisory board that includes a certified deep-sea diver, a professional photographer, and a fly-fishing instructor from television mogul Ted Turner’s ranch in New Mexico, test and approve all merchandise. There are several criteria: Products should be recently introduced; each should be available only as a limited edition, if possible; and items should be authentic, as opposed to imitations. “Our obvious competition is Brookstone and The Sharper Image,” adds Witt. “But we see ourselves as an FAO Schwarz for grown-up guys.”

Witt says the site receives about 50,000 hits a day, with a 1% sales conversion rate. The average order is $200. Witt projects $2 million-$4 million in sales for 2001, about 80% of which will be generated by the Website. The remaining sales are expected to come from the store that the company plans to open in Salt Lake City this month.

Web address: Launched: November 2000 Product category: high-end gifts for men Target customer: men and gift-giving women Telephone: 888-856-2111

Frustrated by the lack of aviation-related merchandise available online, Steven Griffith launched his own Website this past summer. Another impetus for the site was a 1999 study by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which showed that 83% of licensed pilots use the Internet daily.

“Pilots tend to be a very tech-oriented, high-income group,” says Griffith, who has been in the aviation business (including sales and maintenance) since 1976. “They need information quickly and they are often impatient.” sells a broad selection of products, from $5 flashlights to $1,500 flight simulators. Since the August launch, Griffith says, response has been eight times greater than what he’d projected. The average sale is $160. To increase traffic, he advertises in trade magazines such as Flying and Private Pilot.

Competitors include and cataloger Sporty’s. “There are new competitors every day,” Griffith says. “Even the vendors are launching their own sites. So we have to offer a full spectrum of products, price ranges, and customer service to match.” Griffith is now developing a print catalog, scheduled to launch later this year selling aviation-themed gifts, that will target the spouses of pilots. By next year he expects the catalog to account for one-third of his company’s total sales, which he projects to be about $5 million.

Web address: Product category: merchandise for pilots Launched: August 2000 Target audience: pilots Telephone: 800-949-7926

new Web catalogs

Guess? to encourage Web surfers to buy from its new Website, Guess?, the Los Angeles-based casual apparel manufacturer/retailer, is offering free second-day Federal Express shipping and free T-shirts with all online orders. The incentive appears to be working; According to Jennifer Makkar, manager of e-commerce, the site has exceeded expectations since it launched in March. Makkar says that the site’s average order size is about $90; product prices range from $10 to $250.

The decision to launch an online store extends beyond an eagerness to keep up with the competition and changes in the market, Makkar says. “We have a large audience across the U.S., and not all of those people have access to Guess? stores. Now we have a way to serve those customers.”

Guess? is also working to serve its business-to-business customers via the Web; Makkar says it is building a section of the site that will target retailers.

Sirena Apparel Group el Monte, CA-based Sirena Apparel Group, a designer/marketer of branded and private-label swimwear, intimate apparel, and resortwear, jumped into the Internet pool with the April launch of its online catalog. “Swimwear and intimate apparel buyers have strong brand loyalty,” says Adam Sullivan, vice president of strategic development. “So we decided to make our product lines directly available to them.”

To avoid competing with its retailers, Sirena created two merchandise lines, the Rose Marie Reid and Hot Water labels, strictly for sale online. The average order size is $95; merchandise prices range from $8 to $85; and the response has exceeded expectations, Sullivan says. Plans for the site include offering closeout specials and sample sales.

Williams Controls betting that farmers and farm equipment dealers are surfing the ‘Net, Williams Controls went online in January. The West Bloomfield, MI-based parts division of equipment manufacturer NESC Williams sells parts for such products as large rotary mowers and industrial sprayers.

The company launched its site primarily to make ordering easier for its 600 dealers nationwide, says chairman/CEO Thomas Itin. But the online catalog enables end users to order spare parts without traveling to a dealer. “When we sell direct to consumers, we still send the commission to the dealer in that territory, because the dealers are our core business,” Itin says.

And the Web catalog offers much more than ordering convenience, Itin adds. “Some of our large customers, such as GM, can go right into our engineering software online and design the parts they need from us.”

Tandy Leather & Crafts tandy Leather & Crafts, a Fort Worth, TX-based manufacturer/marketer of leathercraft supplies, closed its retail doors and opened up shop online in March. “We decided that the Internet would be a good medium to get our message out to consumers that we haven’t targeted and to expand the base that we have reached,” says call center manager Ron Perry. The company is also hoping to gain wholesale and institutional sales, from camps and schools, via the new Website.

Perry says that the average order size is $65; the average price point (based on price per yard of leather) is $6. While he won’t cite specific sales figures, he says that the Website’s response has met Tandy’s expectations. To encourage sales, the Website has been offering online-only discounts.

New Web Catalogs

Eastern Mountain Sports When Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) launched its Website last November, it didn’t expect to generate much sales volume, but rather to increase brand loyalty and recognition. Instead, “we exceeded our sales expectations right from the grand opening of the site,” says Michelle Bourdelais, Web manager for the Peterborough, NH-based outdoor apparel and equipment retailer. While Bourdelais won’t disclose numbers, she says the average online order is 40% higher than the average in-store order. Prices range from $15 to $600.

This isn’t the first catalog venture for Eastern Mountain Sports, however. “We started a print catalog in 1969, but it eventually folded,” Bourdelais says, though she can’t recall when or why EMS dropped the catalog.

In addition to selling outdoor apparel and gear, the Website offers tips about outdoor activities and provides visitors with a staff-compiled product information guide that includes data on merchandise material and dimensions. “We would like to become a central online source of outdoor gear and apparel,” Bourdelais says.

BAB Holdings hen Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) launched its Website last November, it didn’t expect to generate much sales volume, but rather to increase brand loyalty and recognition. Instead, “we exceeded our sales expectations right from the grand opening of the site,” says Michelle Bourdelais, Web manager for the Peterborough, NH-based outdoor apparel and equipment retailer. While Bourdelais won’t disclose numbers, she says the average online order is 40% higher than the average in-store order. Prices range from $15 to $600.

This isn’t the first catalog venture for Eastern Mountain Sports, however. “We started a print catalog in 1969, but it eventually folded,” Bourdelais says, though she can’t recall when or why EMS dropped the catalog.

In addition to selling outdoor apparel and gear, the Website offers tips about outdoor activities and provides visitors with a staff-compiled product information guide that includes data on merchandise material and dimensions. “We would like to become a central online source of outdoor gear and apparel,” Bourdelais says.

Beauty Buys Slaves to makeup needn’t trek to crowded department stores in search of the latest colors and products. In February, Synergy Brands, a Syosset, NY-based wholesaler/retailer of grocery, health, and beauty products, launched, an online catalog of discounted brand-name cosmetics, fragrances, and professional haircare products for both women and men. Executive vice president Mair Fabish says he expects the target audience of women ages 18-55 to buy the men’s products as gifts. Prices range from $0.88 to $300, and the average order size is $75.

The response to the site has far exceeded expectations, according to Fabish. “The response was tremendous. It shut down our servers,” he says-adding that the company has since upgraded its servers.

Plans include holiday and seasonal specials, specifically promotions for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day,back-to-school offers, and Christmas gifts, Fabish says.

Movies Unlimited Movies Unlimited, the Philadelphia-based cataloger of movies on video, has made its collection available online. The site launched in February, and according to catalog editor Irv Slifkin, the response rate has been “very good.” The Website’s average order size is $58, he says, with prices ranging from $10 to $200. “Since we have about 70,000 titles, it took time to get the Website right,” Slifkin says. “But it’s a competitive market-with companies like now selling movies-and we wanted to be a part of it.” Slifkin says that the site offers research and information for movie-trivia seekers, as well as weekly discounts on movies featuring actors whose birthdays are that week, and 30% discounts on films that have been nominated for or won an Oscar.

Slifkin says the Website’s audience includes avid movie collectors and the merely curious. And the company plans to add more features to the site. “We want to include stars’ movie picks and interviews with actors and people in the business,” Slifkin says. “We’re also going to start an e-mail news service that would inform our customers of price specials as well as of industry news.”

New Web Catalogs

Duncraft You don’t have to be an ornithologist to put up a feeder and watch birds come to your backyard,” says Michelle Pinciaro, customer service manager for Concord, NH-based bird accessories company Duncraft. And you don’t have to leave your computer to buy birdbaths, feeders, and seeds, thanks to the December 1997 launch of Duncraft’s online catalog.

Like its print catalog, Duncraft’s site offers a variety of bird seeds, from sunflower to a fancy French mix, and accessory items such as an ant guard to keep ants away from a hummingbird feeder. The average order of $70 has exceeded expectations by about $10, which Pinciaro attributes to the higher income level of Web users.

In the fall, the site design will feature a panoramic view of a backyard landscape furnished with Duncraft items. When a customer clicks on a product, he or she will be linked to the page featuring the entire product category.

Geerlings & Wade Geerlings & Wade uncorked its catalog on the Web this past May in order to reach new customers and keep in step with competition, according to Jay Essa, president of the Canton, MA-based wine cataloger. “Our Website talks about us as a company and what we sell and how we sell it. It’s much more for somebody who doesn’t know us,” he says.

The approximately 20 products for sale on the site include wines from Bulgaria, Hungary, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and the U. S. Prices range from $7 for a Domaine de Fontedit 1996 merlot to $55 for a 1995 burgundy from Beaune, France. The Website’s target customer, like that of print catalog, is “someone who has an interest in fine and hard-to-get wines,” Essa says.

The response and average order were not available at press time. The company is now determining how best to promote the site. By the end of the summer, Essa expects to have 50 products online. The March launch of an online wedding registry and gifts catalog titled means that engaged couplescan register from the comfort of home or work and not have to worry about finding stores that are conveniently located near their wedding guests. “We’re trying to take the hassle out of registering and shopping for wedding gifts,” says Jeff Swearingen, president of the Flower Mound, TX-based company.

The more than 2,500 products-a selection that is increasing daily, Swearingen says-are divided into 13 categories, such as cookware, garden, and everyday dishes. The target audience, says Swearingen, cuts across demographic lines to “anybody getting married or who needs to buy a wedding gift.”

With 500 couples registered with the Website as of early June, the catalog is taking orders and shipping product every day, but “a lot of these people are getting married in 1999 and 2000,” says Swearingen, so the company is not making its sales all at once. “We’re trying to grow slowly and learn how to do this right,” he adds.

To provide customers with another way to buy its software, and to drive traffic to its resellers, Lotus in May launched LotusStore, the online catalog of Lotus software and training materials. The company is offering 250 products on the site, including the popular Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus ccmail, and Lotus Freelance Graphics programs, plus training videos and books.

Products are offered at suggested retail price; the site also tells visitors how to reach resellers. While larger companies are “well covered with our sales force, which works with our reseller partners, there’s a renewed commitment behind marketing to small businesses and the individual user,” says Jim Gerosi, manager of the online catalog. “The online store is helping to fill a void” in this area, he says.

Without giving specifics, Gerosi reveals that although the average order of LotusStore is lower than that of the Lotus Selects print catalog, the company isn’t too worried. “It’s new. People are getting their feet wet. Once they get comfortable they’ll order multiple products.”