’s Step Into Print Catalogs

The news that online shoes merchant dropped its first catalog during the second week in October sounded like another Web pure-play dabbling in print. But ShoeMall’s parent company is no stranger to catalogs: Chippewa Falls, WI-based Mason Cos. has been selling shoes through the mail since 1904.

The Mason umbrella includes the Auditions, B.A. Mason, Maryland Square, Masseys, Wissota Trader, and E. T. Wright brands. Each brand began as a print catalog and later expanded with accompanying Websites. With ShoeMall, the company used the opposite strategy: It launched the ShoeMall Website in 1999, and mailed the first 48-page ShoeMall print catalog with drops starting Oct. 9. The book mailed to both house file names and “a fair number of list rentals,” according to Internet director Adrienne Hartman.

The ShoeMall brand reaches Mason’s youngest demographic: women age 25-54 who buy at least four pair of shoes a year and are comfortable shopping online, Hartman says. The catalog sells products from stilettos to casual walking shoes, with such brands as Timberland, Born, EasySpirit, and Franco Sarto. The title will mail throughout the holidays with a spring edition planned for early next year, she says. In conjunction with the print launch, the company also revamped the ShoeMall Website.

Recipients of the catalog may not connect the brand back to Mason Cos. The institutional message on the book’s inside front cover says only that “ShoeMall was established in 1997 by a company with more than 100 years of experience in the footwear industry.” Hartman admits that the ShoeMall title downplays its relationship with Mason. “We’re not screaming that out, but we are trying to convey that sense of authority,” she says.

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