It takes a village

When Tracy Amiral realized that the new postal rates would increase her fall mailing costs 38%, her first reaction was to whine. Amiral, general manager of plus-size women’s apparel cataloger Making It Big, apparently whined so loudly that some of her suppliers rallied to help her.

Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs of the cataloger’s printing company Arandell Corp., flew out to Making It Big’s Cotati, CA, offices to see what he could do to help keep his client afloat.

Mike Hayden, president of the ALEXA co-op database, also paid a house call to the merchant.

The visits — and advice — from the suppliers are paying off. Amiral says her vendors have helped her implement cost-cutting measures including a cut back on prospecting with more aggressive merge/purge tactics, using lighter paper stock, postcard mailing, and ramping up online marketing. The efforts should help reduce the cost increase back into the mid-20% range for her winter book, she says.

“People in the industry have been very responsive to me, and I’ve been able to take a multi-pronged approach,” Amiral says. “I’ve become more of an expert in the catalog business overnight, when before I treated it like a car engine. You don’t know how it runs, but you start it up and it does.”

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