Steve Schlecht, founder/CEO of Belleville, WI-based woodworking tools cataloger Duluth Trading Co., wants you to come along on a trip around the world with the company’s new spin-off catalog, Travelog.
Launched in early March, the 56-page clothing and accessories title mixes a wide array of travel merchandise with personal comments from Schlecht to add a personal touch. Some of the practical travel items include a lightweight packable rain jacket for $69; a 14” Underseat carry-on bag for $79.50; and Lowa Trekkers hiking boots for $220.
Why would a woodworking tools mailer start a travel products catalog? Schlecht explains in his president’s letter: “I’ve learned a lot about travel in the last 30 years. Been all over the world on business. Now I’m spending less time in the office, and [his wife] Marianne and I are traveling for enjoyment. We want you to come along. In this new catalog, I want to share the things I’ve learned (often the hard way) in my travels. How to pack smart. Dressing for comfort. Dealing with the elements…”
Indeed, says Duluth Trading Co.’s creative director Al Shackelford, the Schlechts have personally tested the Travelog products. “We’ve been developing items, clothing, accessories, and tools designed and tested by tradesmen. The more Steve traveled, he wanted to extend that type of philosophy into the world of travel. Traveling can be a very frustrating, stressful experience with all the regulations, flight delays, and Steve’s thought was, ‘let’s develop some things that are solutions for travel problems people are going to have.’’’
Shackelford says Travelog came together in about a year on the heels of another spin-off title. “We launched a women’s apparel catalog last fall, and the response has been OK,” he says. “We mailed our first stand-alone women’s holiday catalog this past year. It’s a building business. For a company like Duluth, it’s always been a masculine, tough-guy company. Women’s wear is kind of an unexpected avenue for us, but we’ve heard from our customers that there’s a real need for it.”
Duluth is planning four drops of the Travelog this year. Travelog, Shackelford says, seems to have a “pretty broad appeal. There has already been a lot of good response from items in the book. The ideas for all of these items came from the thought: ‘Gee, I wish I had one of these or something that could do this.’ We’re pretty happy with this for the time being.”
Although Travelog is Duluth’s second spin-off in the past two years, Shackelford doesn’t envision any more new titles in the near future for the 16-year-old company. “Many companies sucked the juice out of their core business by doing too many spin-offs,” he says. “They took their eye off the ball. We have a very strong core business.”