Giggles & Gizmos
After a test mailing in October 2002, educational toy cataloger Young Explorers rolled out a spin-off catalog, Giggles & Gizmos, in fall 2003.
According to Young Explorers owner/chief operating officer Sally McMahon, “we wanted to grow in the children’s toy arena without disturbing the educational toy niche” currently occupied by Young Explorers. Targeting toddlers, young teens, and youngsters in between, Giggles & Gizmos sells products such as a mix-and-match bracelet kit for $34.95 and a kid’s yoga mat and game for $45.95. Most of the toys and games offered range in price from $15 to $65.
The 56-page debut edition mailed to more than 1 million customers and prospects in three drops during the holiday season, each with a different cover. Although she won’t reveal Giggles & Gizmos’ response rate, McMahon says that it met expectations. The average order size is $65.
The spin-off is set to mail again during the 2004 fall/holiday season. McMahon says she does not intend to make major changes in its creative or merchandising, although she may increase the page count.
Product category: children’s games and toys First mailing date: fall 2003 Size of distribution: more than 1 million Target audience: parents and grandparents Frequency: once a year Competitors: HearthSong, Spilsbury, Leaps and Bounds, Highlights Average order size: $65 Number of pages: 56 Size: 8″ × 10 1/2″ Telephone: 970-278-9660
Decorating is all in the details, believes furniture industry veteran Kelli Gierz. But it peeved Gierz when many of the decorative accessories complementing the furniture in catalogs were not available for sale, so she decided to start her own home decor catalog, Pique.
Having launched a Website, Pique4u.com, in 2002, Gierz mailed the first Pique print catalog in October to contacts compiled from her 20 years in the furniture industry. Merchandise in the 14-page book includes a $20 set of African Porcupine Quills, handmade-Esperanto Pillows for $65, and wall art in the $2,000 range.
The Hudsonville, MI-based catalog also provides background about the artists and how particular pieces were made, as well as the best way to display them. “Pique offers art objects that have a spirit, a story; whether it is the process used to make the product or the materials or the vision of the designer, each carries a deeper connecting point,” Gierz says. “We focus on pieces that ‘complete’ your space.”
Pique’s response rate has met its projected goals, according to Gierz, and is generating a $700 average order. The next drop is not scheduled until fall, although Gierz plans to eventually mail the book quarterly.
One of the critical factors is finding product, says Gierz, because “the selection process for a piece is very controlled and must meet a set of requirements, which will drive publication time.” Each piece should enhance the others, she adds: “We’re not just picking stuff because it’s the most profitable, or because of how much we can move. Everybody has nice products; we want to expose more unique and individual products.”
Product category: home decor First mailing date: October 2003 Size of distribution: less than 100,000 Target audience: upscale, design-conscious consumers Frequency: once a year Competitors: Design Within Reach, Vivre, West Elm Average order size: $700 Number of pages: 14 Size: 10″ × 7″ Telephone: 866-747-8348
After selling household items and gadgets to wholesalers, retailers, and mail order catalogs around the country for five years, Inventive Solutions has decided to go directly to consumers with its own catalog.
The first Inventive Solutions catalog mailed in February to 250,000 homes in nine western states, says John Gibney, who cofounded the company with his father in 1999. With the company’s fulfillment center and warehouse in Bend, OR, mailing exclusively to western states allows for them to keep an eye on their fulfillment process and work out any kinks before going nationwide. By the summer, however, Gibney expects to be distributing the catalog nationally.
Inventive Solutions’ products, which include tools and accessories for the home and garden and exercise equipment, range in price from around $5 up to $1,000. The average price point, Gibney says, “should hover right around $29.95.” The catalog’s response rate, he adds, has exceeded expectations.
To keep ahead of the catalog competition, Gibney says he and his father will continually search the globe for new, unique merchandise. “This will allow us to consistently provide variety to our customers,” says Gibney.
Inventive Solutions is set to mail twice a season for the rest of 2004, with perhaps three mailings during the holiday/winter season. At press time, the company was scheduled to launch a Website in March.
Product category: home, garden, and auto products First mailing date: February 2004 Size of distribution: 250,000 Target audience: suburban homeowners with household income of more than $50,000 Frequency: seven to eight times a year Competitors: Silvo Home, Solutions Catalog, Practica, AutoSport, Alstos Average order size: $29.95 Number of pages: 30 pages Size: 8″ × 10-1/2″ Telephone: 888-589-0690
As the former president of Plymouth, MI-based wholesaler Broder Bros., Todd Turkin knows the wholesale sportswear industry. He put this knowledge to use by launching Sigma Sportswear.
The Redford, MI-based catalog sells sportswear for screen-printing and embroidery. The product line includes T-shirts, golf hats, and sweatshirts; brands include Bella and Blake & Hollister as well as Sigma Sportswear’s own brand.
The first edition mailed to 20,000 embroiderers, screen-printers, and distributors of promotional products; the company rented most of the names from trade publications specializing in imprintable sportswear. Turkin kept the drop to 11 states, mostly in the Midwest along with a few on the East Coast, because he was familiar with distributors there.
The catalog’s response rate was three times greater than the company expected, says vice president of marketing Pam Turkin, Todd Turkin’s wife. The catalog’s average order is around $300. It helped that Sigma Sportswear promoted the mailing with an e-mail blast.
The catalog will mail only once this year, but Sigma Sportswear will send out a 2005 preview book in September to announce additions to its current list of 11 vendors. The preview will also showcase the company’s private line, which it plans on expanding next year. The Turkins hope to mail the catalog twice next year.
Product category: imprintable sportswear First mailing date: January Size of distribution: 20,000 Target audience: embroiderers, screen-printers, and promotional products distributors Frequency: once a year Competitors: Broder Bros., Alpha Shirt Co., S&S Active Wear, One Stop Average order size: $300 Number of pages: 72 Size: 8 1/2″ × 11″ Telephone: 888-642-0055