Magram, Brownstone back in the mail

Under a new owner, women’s apparel catalogs Lew Magram and Brownstone Studio are back in the mail, just three months after parent company StyleSite Marketing filed for bankruptcy.

On March 10, Fingerhut Cos bought the inventory, lists, and trademarks of Lew Magram and Brownstone Studio for $6.74 million. Formerly known as Diplomat Direct Marketing, the Teaneck, NJ-based StyleSite had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 13. The Magram and Brownstone acquisitions were designed to beef up Fingerhut’s apparel division, which includes the $140 million Arizona Mail Order and $100 million Bedford Fair, both of which were acquired in 1998. Apparel accounts for less than 20% of Fingerhut’s revenue.

In April, Fingerhut dropped a “couple of million” copies each of Lew Magram and Brownstone Studio catalogs, says Steven Lightman, president of Arizona Mail Order, which manages the apparel division of Fingerhut (itself a division of Federated Department Stores). “We mailed a `best of the best’ merchandise version because we had to put both books together in a hurry to make spring,” Lightman says. Sixty percent of the catalogs went to the house file; the remainder went to customers of Fingerhut’s other titles. No major creative changes were made to the books.

Surprising response Since neither Lew Magram nor Brownstone Studio had mailed since the holiday 1999 season, “we were overwhelmingly surprised at the response we were getting with both of these books,” Lightman says. Although he won’t elaborate, he says that both Magram and Brownstone have been pulling “beyond our own expectations and their history.”

Not that every customer welcomed the catalogs back in the mail. “Some of the customers were mad at StyleSite because it had still not delivered some merchandise from the fall,” Lightman says. To ward off any ill will, “we offered a coupon to try to make good with customers who had a bad experience,” says Fingerhut spokesman Ben Saukko.

In March, Fingerhut moved Lew Magram and Brownstone Studio from New York to the Greenwich, CT-based facility that houses Bedford Fair. Arizona Mail Order’s Wilmington, NC, facility handles fulfillment for the catalogs.

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