S&S celebrates centennial
Another month, another catalog anniversary. But this is a big one: Colchester, CT-based arts, crafts, and physical education products mailer S&S Worldwide, whose 12 catalogs include S&S School Supplies, S&S Discount Sports and PE Supplies, and S&S Active Learning, is celebrating 100 years in business. Founded in 1906 by Aaron Schwartz as S&S Leather in New York, specializing in leather-covered wire hair curlers, S&S began supplying its leather remnants for do-it-yourself kits for producing comb cases, wallets, and small purses — kits designed to employ disabled World War I veterans. The company evolved over the years to become a supplier of educational and recreational products; it mails about 12 million copies a year to schools, hospitals, religious institutions, home-schooling organizations, correctional facilities, military establishments, municipalities, and social-service organizations. Happy birthday, S&S, and many more!
Off on the right foot with Bush
President George Bush turned the spotlight on Allen-Edmonds when he toured the Port Washington, WI-based shoes manufacturer/marketer on July 11 while in Milwaukee. During the visit, Bush — a regular customer of the 84-year-old company — was gifted with a pair of custom-made red-white-and-blue wingtips. Creating the festive footwear took about a day (special-order shoes normally take a week) and involved some 130 employees, according to the company. Though it has since received a number of inquiries through its stores and customer service center from consumers interested in acquiring their own Uncle Sam-inspired shoes, Allen-Edmonds has no plans to replicate the patriotic pair created just for Bush.
TV personality Star Jones Reynolds started it by demanding tacky “sponsorship” deals to pay for her November 2004 wedding. Now a New York couple has taken a page from her playbook, negotiating sponsorships that paid for about $80,000 of their $100,000 wedding bill. Caroline Fisher and Dave Kerpen, who wed on July 8 at the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium, enlisted the donations of goods and services from several merchants — including 1-800-Flowers.com, which provided several thousand dollars’ worth of floral arrangements. A spokesperson for the Carle Place, NY-based marketer said the deal was all about “a good buzz” and was a “viral event,” as sponsors benefited from between-inning promotions (such as a bouquet toss), signage around the stadium, and ads on the stadium’s Jumbotron, as well as inclusion in the 8,000 wedding programs distributed to the crowd. Maybe it is good buzz, but the whole idea is just icky to us. Nonetheless, our best wishes to the haggling couple.
Hardly a cause célèbre
We’re all for putting celebrities on the cover of catalogs, as it’s nice exposure for the entire industry. But if you have to go too far down the celebrity food chain, the practice could backfire. For instance, we saw a release from Thousand Oaks, CA-based cataloger G.W. Little, which specializes in outfits and accessories for small dogs, touting that its summer cover featured ’70s teen idol Tony DeFranco. Now, we’re old enough to know the words of DeFranco’s biggest hit, and we’re still not all that interested in seeing the singer posed with his Yorkshire terrier, Tallulah — will the cataloger’s customers, devotees of the small-dog craze, even know or care who he is? And another thing: Now we can’t get “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” out of our heads. Thanks a lot, G.W. Little!