New ruler for Animal Town

Kings Road Entertainment began as an independent film production company in 1984, but with its June acquisition of children’s products cataloger Animal Town, the New York-based company is looking to become a star in the catalog industry.

“We wanted catalogs to give our company another line of revenue,” says David Dube, president of Kings Road Entertainment. “And we think there’s an opportunity in the children’s entertainment business.” Kings Road Entertainment remains first and foremost a movie production company, whose films include All of Me, Jackknife, and The Best of Times.

While it continues to fund and develop films, Kings Road was attracted to the steadier revenue stream generated by catalogs, which could complement the more erratic revenue earned from movie releases once or twice a year.

The 24-year-old Animal Town catalog sold educational toys, games, crafts, and books, many with an environmental focus. A lack of funds forced its former owner, Ken Kolsbun, to suspend mailings in 1998. (Kolsbun remains with the catalog as its president.) Yet despite not mailing for two years, Animal Town was still receiving orders via its 800-number. The cataloger’s third-party fulfillment provider steadily fielded calls and took orders from faithful customers. Animal Town has more than 76,000 catalog customers in its house file.

“The best way to lure back customers is to continue mailing a current catalog on a regular basis,” Dube says. “Our strategy is to use the brand name recognition of Animal Town to target 5- to 12-year-old children while also building the brand to their parents and teachers.” For the relaunch, Kings Road mailed 500,000 copies of a 28-page Animal Town catalog in August to the existing house file as well as to rented names, although Dube won’t disclose from which lists.

Committed to print Dube says he’s concentrating on print catalogs for now, rather than expanding to the Internet. Although Animal Town does have a Website, it serves only as a catalog request generator, and Dube has no immediate plans to change that.

But Dube says Kings Road Entertainment plans to expand its print catalog empire with more acquisitions. At press time, Kings Road was looking at acquiring a pair of catalog businesses in product categories that would complement Animal Town.

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