Going It Alone Gets Tough for The Last Best Place

“The era for the stand-alone catalog is tougher now than it ever was — and it was never easy,” says Lucinda Heekin, and as president/founder of women’s apparel and gifts catalog The Last Best Place, she knows of which she speaks. Faced with rising postage and fulfillment costs, the Cincinnati-based cataloger is seeking a partner to help it pay its bills. And Heekin adds that she’s even open to selling the eight-year-old catalog outright.

In the catalog industry, Heekin says, there’s safety — and stability — in numbers. For instance, catalogers need to mail certain quantities to qualify for postal discounts, and it’s difficult for small companies to reach those levels on their own. But if The Last Best Place can find a catalog partner or a parent company that markets to a similar demographic, it will help “amortize the cost of print and fulfillment costs over a higher volume of shipments and orders,” she says.

According to SRDS, The Last Best Place has 19,767 12-month buyers, and its average order is $160. The cataloger’s mailing list is managed by Mokrynski & Associates. The Last Best Place last mailed a catalog at the end of May. Given the economic climate, the company has pulled back on circulation in 2001, although Heekin won’t disclose specifics. The sales downturn it has suffered this year has been particularly difficult, she says, “because 2000 was the best year we ever had.”

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