Attack Aftermath: Catalogers Lend a Hand

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks resulted in massive destruction, but the tragic events also produced a massive, perhaps even unprecedented, outpouring of help. Within days, catalogers large and small had started donating goods and funds to the relief efforts.

Marketers as diverse as apparel and home goods cataloger Lands’ End, multititle food and gifts mailer The Swiss Colony, industrial supplies cataloger Arbill Safety Products, travel products cataloger Magellan’s, women’s apparel cataloger/retailer The Talbots, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (set up by the founder of Dell Computer Corp.), institutional supplies cataloger ATD-American Co., and Federated Department Stores (parent company of general merchandisers Fingerhut Cos.,, and Bloomingdale’s by Mail) are among those matching dollar-for-dollar employee contributions to the American Red Cross and similar organizations.

Hingham, MA-based Talbots and Cincinnati-based Federated also donated an additional $100,000 to the Red Cross. Likewise, Hawthorne, NY-based Wine Enthusiast is donating $10,000 to Windows of Hope, a charity benefiting the families of victims who worked at Windows on the World, the restaurant that had been atop World Trade Tower One. (Windows on the World had been a Wine Enthusiast customer.)

Other catalogers have donated product. For instance, Dodgeville, WI-based Lands’ End responded to a Red Cross request for clothing, says spokesperson Beverly Holmes. “Also, on our Website we are selling clothing with American flags on them, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross.”

Direct Safety, a Phoenix-based cataloger of industrial safety supplies, donated respirators to rescue workers at the attack sites, as did Philadelphia-based Arbill. Some staffers at New York-based Garrett Wade Co., which sells high-quality woodworking tools, traveled down to World Trade Center site, or “ground zero,” says systems and operations manager Craig Winer, to donate kneepads, flashlights, and batteries in addition to respirators. General merchandise cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney Co. donated socks, T-shirts, and underwear to the Red Cross to be distributed to rescue workers, in addition to donating $100,000.

Several catalogers have remembered the needs of the canine rescue workers. Sidney, NE-based outdoor sporting goods cataloger/retailer Cabela’s, Rhinelander, WI-based pet products cataloger Doctors Foster & Smith, and cataloger/retailer PetSmart donated dog boots (to protect their paws amid the rubble), food, cleaners, and other canine supplies. Austin, TX-based manufacturer/marketer Dell and Chicago-based industrial and safety supplies manufacturer/marketer W.W. Grainger donated $1 million in funds and computer equipment to relief organizations. And Shelburne, VT-based Vermont Teddy Bear Co. sent about 500 stuffed bears adorned with badges declaring “USA Hero” to families of police officers, firefighters, and other rescue workers who died following the attacks.

A number of smaller mailers, such as electronic gadgets cataloger Smarthome and food mailers Wyoming Buffalo Co. and Zingerman’s, are donating a portion of a day’s, a week’s, or a month’s proceeds.

Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, which sells furniture and home accessories, had previously planned a warehouse sale for the Saturday following the attacks. Rather than cancel the sale, the Portland, ME-based mailer donated a percentage of the proceeds to the relief efforts.

“We advertised the sale with an Americana plaque that said ‘God bless America,’” says chief financial officer John Alexander. “Throughout the day, we must have sold that item 20 or 30 times over. People were gravitating toward that kind of merchandise.”

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