Plow & Hearth’s new city address

Dec 01, 2006 10:30 PM  By

Having established its niche as a seller of “country living” products, Plow & Hearth is now going after city clickers. The Madison, VA-based cataloger/retailer has launched a spin-off title, Madison Place, which sells home furnishings for what Plow & Hearth president Michael Luce describes as more of an “urban and suburban” audience.

The 68-page Madison Place catalog first mailed in September to an undisclosed number of Plow & Hearth buyers, as well as to customers who have bought goods from the Plow & Hearth Home catalog. Luce, who is also president of the home and children’s gifts division of Plow & Hearth parent company 1-800-Flowers.com, says that some rental lists were used as well. The Madison Place Website went live in early November.

“The concept of Madison Place is recognizing the growth rate for a mature brand like Plow & Hearth and finding out if there are new universes of customers we can market to,” Luce says. According to its data card, the 26-year-old Plow & Hearth has more than 807,000 12-month buyers; Plow & Hearth Home has more than 31,000 12-month buyers, and the third Plow & Hearth title, Problem Solvers, has more than 42,000 12-month buyers.

“Our core competencies are as a direct marketer and product development,” Luce continues. “This is trying to leverage those core competencies and apply them to a new universe of customers.”

Joseph Pititto, vice president of investor relations for 1-800-Flowers.com, says Madison Place takes the Plow & Hearth brand “to a different demographic, slightly more upscale.” Plow & Hearth’s customers have a median income of $90,000 and spend an average of $90 an order.

The Madison Place Website describes the brand as “… your place for creating, re-inventing and enhancing your personal style. Inspired by classic design and distinguished by color and detail, Madison Place brings a fresh perspective to your home with ideas for decorating, entertaining and gift giving.” Products range from fingertip towels for $9.95 to a $1,299 leather couch and include rugs, window treatments, tables, and bedding.

Madison Place will drop eight to 10 times in the first year. So far, early response rates are positive, Luce says: “Through October, we were right on budget. It seems to have resonated with a fair number of customers.”

Founded in 1980, Plow & Hearth was acquired by the $671 million 1-800-Flowers.com in 1998. The company also includes toys catalogs HearthSong and Magic Cabin Dolls, acquired in 2001, and food books The Popcorn Factory, Cheryl & Co., and Fannie May. (For more on Fannie May, see page 54.)