Essence Communications Partners is in the final stages of liquidating its New York-based Essence by Mail catalog. The company, best known as the publisher of Essence magazine, is seeking licensing agreements, however. The catalog of apparel for African-American women first mailed in 1984.
Essence by Mail took its final order on Oct. 31, says general manager Nancy Hegy-Martin. Some orders are still coming in, she adds, but “we are sending them back and saying we are no longer accepting orders.” A 56-page final clearance catalog mailed the week of Sept. 9.
Essence by Mail had sales of about $19 million in 2001. Its house file consists of more than 350,000 buyers and more than 250,000 requesters. Customers were primarily African-American women, 45-60 years old, with an annual household income of $40,000-$70,000. The average order ranged from $120 to $140 in recent years. Income from list rental generated about $400,000 in 2001.
According to Hegy-Martin, Essence Communications was hoping to sell the catalog rather than close it. But after negotiations with a potential buyer collapsed in mid-July, the company decided to divest itself of the catalog business. Essence by Mail had been for sale since December 2001.
The clock began ticking for the catalog after Time Inc. purchased a significant portion of Essence Communications in October 2000. “The new board was looking to put their resources into a business that was more closely aligned with their core publishing business,” Hegy-Martin says.