From bears to bags

Shelburne, VT-based Vermont Teddy Bear Co. is hoping to bag plenty of sales from its Gift Bag Boutique spin-off. The Website launched in mid-November, and the print catalog was scheduled to mail to 580,000 recipients in late November.

The 48-page catalog sells more than 80 styles of handbags, from designer brands such as Kenneth Cole and Cynthia Rowley as well as private-label items. It also offers scarves, wallets, and other accessories. Prices range from $39.95 to $300. In addition to its core catalog of teddy bears, Vermont Teddy Bear owns sleepwear brand PajamaGram, fresh-flowers mailer Calyx & Corolla, and food gifts title TastyGram.

Prospects made up about half of the circulation, says vice president of marketing Irene Steiner, with the other half consisting of PajamaGram, Calyx & Corolla, and Vermont Teddy Bear buyers and gift recipients. The company is hoping to attract more women customers with Gift Bag Boutique, she says; males tend to buy once a year, whereas female customers are more likely to purchase through the year.

About 55% of the company’s sales come in via the Internet; for its PajamaGram brand, about 85% of sales originate online. “We think the Gift Bag Boutique will be somewhere in the middle,” Steiner says.

Many other companies sell pajamas, teddy bears, and handbags, Steiner admits, but she contends that her company’s offerings are different. “We make them special based on our packaging — each Gift Bag Boutique gift is sent in a fun, purse-shaped shipping box along with free lip conditioner — and our ability to expedite delivery.”

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