Stellar sellers buck the recession

“Is anybody doing well right now?” That’s usually the first thing industry folks ask me these days.

And it’s always a tough one to answer. When you’re constantly reporting on dismal revenue figures, Chapter 11 filings, distress sales and general closures, the bright spots that have been few and far between are not top of mind.

Are they out there? You bet. And we uncovered quite a few for our cover story “What recession?” — many more than we could include in this issue. (You can find them online.) There are no doubt many other catalogers and Websites ringing up strong sales that we did not learn about.

What do the success stories have in common? They tend to be specialty merchants — experts in their fields. (Case in point: Bruce “Onionman” Frasier, the president of Dixondale Farms, who appears on our cover. How can a cataloger selling just onion plants be seeing a 40% increase in sales?)

What’s more, most of the marketers doing well that we spoke to are smaller companies. You’d think this would be a bad thing — and often it is when it comes to the economies of scale in buying merchandise, paper, postage, etc.

But smaller merchants always have to be creative, which is helpful in a downturn. They operate leanly and they can react quickly to market changes.

It’s tough to do business when consumers and companies aren’t spending. But as Tim Harris, owner of imported foods cataloger La Tienda says, “If you have something authentic and of value, people will continue to buy.”

What else is in this issue? Plenty — how to predict paper prices, the top mistakes Web marketers make, innovation and merchandising, the benefits of click-to-chat service, the ideal organization chart for today’s multichannel business, and much more. It’s everything you need to be a stellar seller — recession or not.

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