Fishing for catalog buyers in Poland

It’s been more than a decade since Poland shifted from a centrally planned economy to a free-market system. And now that the free-market economy is no longer a novelty, some local entrepreneurs feel the time is right to launch a fishing tackle products catalog in Poland.

Robert Pastryk is one of several investors planning to launch Swiat Wedkarza (“Angler’s World”) next January. Swiat Wedkarza will sell fishing rods, reels, lures, apparel, and even boats, outboard engines, and tents. “We felt this would be the perfect time to start a fishing tackle catalog now, because the catalog market is growing in Poland,” Pastryk says. “We’ve noticed that more and more money has been spent lately on leisure activities. And the fly-fishing market has been growing very fast, so we want to offer quality products.”

Pastryk, who owns an air freight forwarding and logistics company, and his partners, banker Roman Grus and journalist/fly-fishing expert Grzegorz Loszewski, will mail 7,000-10,000 copies of a 48-page color catalogs to Polish prospects during the first half of 2001. Next August, the company will mail a second edition to a broader circulation.

Renting lists is not a viable option in Poland, since strict privacy regulations require consumers to fill out lengthy approval forms before marketers can exchange their names. “There is no chance for us to rent lists of any quality,” Pastryk says. “So we have to build our own list by advertising the catalog in fishing magazines, at fishing competitions and tournaments, and at fishing tackle shows.”

Keeping close to home “We want to limit our coverage in the beginning to the Polish market, because that’s what we know,” Pastryk says. “We don’t know much yet about our neighboring countries, but my recent trips to the Czech Republic and Slovakia show that there’s a huge demand and market for fly-fishing products, in particular. So these countries will probably be our next targets once we’re established in Poland.” The three partners have no plans to mail Swiat Wedkarza to the U.S., however.

Pastryk says the amount that he, Grus, and Loszewski have invested in the catalog start-up is “substantial,” though he won’t cite specifics. But he estimates that sales will reach $500,000 (U.S.) in the company’s first full year. For 2002, the company is planning for $1.2 million in revenue. These are fairly ambitious sales goals, considering Poland’s relatively small economy. The country’s gross domestic product for 1998 was $263 billion.

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