New Catalogs

Apr 01, 2003 10:30 PM  By

The Woolly Sheep

Rustic homes call for rustic decor. That’s the philosophy behind The Woolly Sheep, which sells rural-inspired home furnishings and gifts for owners of fishing cabins and country retreats.

The Woolly Sheep began as an Internet-only business in October 2000; in October 2002 it added a store at its Weed, CA-based headquarters. This past November, owner Chad Goldsmith launched a print catalog. “We saw a real need for the print piece for people who didn’t want to browse the Website but wanted to shop with a catalog,” he says.

The average catalog order is about $100; prices range from $3.95 for a wooden holiday ornament to $500 for a hickory rocking chair. The average price point is about $19.95.

The catalog first mailed to 7,000 people who had requested it on the Website. Goldsmith says that the company receives an average of 250 catalog requests each week; it currently has a house list of 10,000 names, all from customer requests. Response was impressive, Goldsmith says. The Woolly Sheep’s December sales alone were up 400% from the previous December, which he attributes mostly to the catalog.

The Woolly Sheep will follow up the initial 5-1/2″ × 8-1/2″ catalog with a full-size version, to be mailed in April to its house file. For future mailings, Goldsmith will consider renting lists from publications in which it advertises, such as Log Home Living magazine.

First mailing date: November 2002 Size of distribution: 7,000 Product category: home furnishings and gifts Target audience: vacation-home owners, rural decor fans Frequency: twice a year Competitors: Orvis, Norm Thompson Average order size: $100 Number of pages: 20 Size: 5-1/2″ × 8-1/2″ Telephone: 866-932-9665

Dan’s Chocolates

Randolph, MA-based Dan’s Chocolates mailed its first catalogs in November — just in time to tempt chocoholics for the holidays. Dan Cunningham started Dan’s Chocolates in November 1999 as a consumer Web-based business; the company also sells some of its handmade chocolates to specialty retailers nationwide.

Cunningham decided to branch out into print because “we saw other retailers finding success by leveraging print catalogs.” Although the company began including a catalog with outgoing orders in January 2002, it didn’t mail the book until late November. That first mailing went to 80,000 catalog requesters and customers.

Customer response to the initial catalog was brisk. “The month after the catalog was launched was the best sales month in company history,” Cunningham says. Holiday sales for 2002 were 38% higher than for holiday 2001. Catalog prices range from $19.99 for a half-pound box to $32.99 for a one-pound box; the average order size is $38.

Dan’s Chocolates donates 0.5% of each sale to charities chosen by Cunningham, including Teach for America, Care, America’s Second Harvest, and the New Orleans Musician’s Clinic.

Cunningham plans to mail a catalog three or four times a year, around key holidays including Christmas/Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. He also plans to expand wholesale sales through the gourmet specialty retail channel.

First mailing date: November 2002 Size of distribution: 80,000 Product category: chocolates Target audience: chocolate lovers Frequency: three or four times a year Competitors: Godiva, Ethel M. Chocolates Average order size: $38 Number of pages: 24 Size: 8-1/2″ × 5-1/2″ Telephone: 800-800-3267

Tutti Bella/My Cowboy Baby

Calabasas, CA-based Web marketer Tutti Bella in August launched two print titles in one 16-page book. The 10-page Tutti Bella portion of the catalog sells bedding and furnishings for babies and toddlers, while the six-page My Cowboy Baby section sells similar baby accessories with a Western style, such as cowboy-themed bibs.

Kim Ciliberto founded Tutti Bella in 2000 as an online sales channel for her signature line of quilts and baby blankets, which she began making shortly after the birth of her son. A second online store,, followed in September 2001. Ciliberto says that she launched the print catalog to further spread the word about the company. “We believed a print catalog would also be passed along and have a bit of a shelf life with our customers,” she says. The book has boosted the company’s sales, but Ciliberto could not say by how much. The average catalog order is $70; prices range from $12 to $500.

Ciliberto mailed the initial catalog to 10,000 house file names. The file is now up to 20,000 names. She followed up the summer mailing with an oversize holiday postcard, mailed in October 2002.

The next catalog, scheduled to mail this month, will include merchandise from the new Tutti Bella Kids Website, which launched in February 2003 and sells items for children ages 3-8. Ciliberto says she plans to mail quarterly by 2004.

First mailing date: August 2002 Size of distribution: 10,000 Product category: baby furnishings and accessories Target audience: women 25-40 Frequency: quarterly by 2004 Competitors: Pottery Barn Kids, Babystyle Average order size: $70 Number of pages: 16 Size: 5″ × 7″ Telephone: 877-279-9391

Sino Treasures

From ceramics and puppets to handcrafted jewelry and tea accessories, Sino Treasures offers a wide variety of Chinese crafts and apparel. The Armonk, NY-based marketer mailed its debut catalog in September, the same time it launched its Website.

Dan Litwin, who founded the company with his wife, Georgia Chu, says they felt a print catalog was the best medium for conveying the quality of their merchandise. “Plus, there was no less-intrusive way of getting our stuff in front of potential customers. Banner ads, DRTV, telemarketing, print advertising, and e-mail marketing were either too annoying, too costly, or too slow,” Litwin says.

The first edition of Sino Treasures mailed to more than 100,000 names from rented lists. The company followed the initial mailing with a holiday remail of the first book in mid-November to the same lists. Sino Treasures, which targets Chinese-Americans, Sinophiles, and collectors, sells teapots, ceramics, and other items. Prices range from $25 to $700, with a median of just more than $100. Catalog orders average $175.

Sino Treasures plans to mail three or four times each year, increasing the number of mailings “once we’re comfortably in the black,” Litwin says. Its spring catalog, scheduled to mail in early April, will include a broader selection of handicrafts, which did well for the company, as well as additional apparel styles.

First mailing date: September 2002 Size of distribution: 100,000 Product category: Chinese crafts and apparel Target audience: Chinese-Americans, Sinophiles Frequency: three or four times a year Competitors: Gump’s, Horchow, China Sprout Average order size: $175 Number of pages: 32 Size: 8-1/2″ × 11″ Telephone: 866-746-6278