Swiss Colony helping to carve out career paths
Good help is always hard to find, but to make it a little easier, multititle mailer The Swiss Colony is testing a career exploration program targeting local high school students. The Monroe, WI-based merchant in May selected 12 participants for the program. From June 19 through late August, the students will work four days each week in the company’s bakery operations or contact center. One day a week students will shadow workers in various areas from marketing and merchandising to creative and fulfillment. Swiss Colony, which hopes students will continue the program during their summer breaks from college, plans to expand the program with more positions and allow students to spend more time in specific areas of interest. The company, which sells apparel, food, home goods, and gifts through catalogs including Midnight Velvet, Monroe & Main, and Ginny’s, has worked with local schools for years on various programs, but this initiative is a big step in presenting direct marketing as a career choice.
Buffeting candy sales?
Here’s one way to boost sales in a candy business that you happen to own: snack on the company’s goodies while fielding questions during your annual shareholders meeting. That’s exactly what Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger — chairman and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway — do with See’s Candies. According to reports, Buffet and Munger go through two boxes each of See’s peanut brittle in about 90 minutes. Buffet bought the San Francisco-based See’s — at Munger’s urging — in 1972 for $25 million. See’s operates 200 stores, mostly in California, a catalog, and a Website, as well as seasonal shops for the holidays. How big a boost does See’s get from Buffet’s endorsement? See’s sold about $80,000 worth of candy immediately following Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting this past May.
Cataloger/chef whips up a prize dinner
Winning a dinner cooked by the head of a catalog company may not sound like such a big deal — unless that catalog is NapaStyle. The Napa, CA-based merchant was founded in November 2000 by Michael Chiarello, host of the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and Fine Living’s NapaStyle with Michael Chiarello. As a top prize in a sweepstakes offered by Italian foods brand Buitoni, Chiarello prepared a four-course Italian dinner party for 10 for the lucky winner in Virginia’s Stafford County. What did the guests get to eat? Bruschetta with homemade mozzarella; a salad of endive, arugula, spinach, and tortellini; fennel-rubbed chicken breasts with asparagus and potatoes; and olive-oil cakes topped with huckleberry preserves or lemon marmalade. As Chiarello’s fellow food network star Rachael Ray would say, Yum-mo. Where do we sign up for the next contest?
Barnie’s talks Turkey
Orlando, FL-based cataloger/retailer Barnie’s Coffee and Tea Co. in May opened its first franchised store in Ankara, Turkey. The company plans to open 60 more stores in Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, beginning this fall. We are delighted that Barnie’s is such a success in international markets; it also has stores in places like Ireland, Kuwait, Jordan, and India. Considering that Turkey is known for its elaborately prepared ultra-strong java, it sounds a bit like taking coals to Newcastle to us. But if Barnie’s can sell tea in Ireland, we guess it knows what it’s doing.
The devil made them do it
Some folks spent June 6 — 06/06/06 — waiting for the world to end because 666 is the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation, the final book in the New Testament, about the end of the world. But a few marketers reportedly tried to capitalize on the date. San Luis Obispo, CA-based Parable Group, which sells Christian-theme products, was said to be selling paperback copies of the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins for $6.66 on June 6. When we went onto Parable’s site that day, however, the paperbacks were selling for $3.00-$12.97 — but not one was going for $6.66.
Froggy went a shootin’
The cover of a recent catalog from Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel includes a sketch of a rifle-toting, cigar-smoking frog apparently heading out to hunt some ducks. Kevin’s explains on the inside front cover that the frog picture was from a 19th-century advertising agency. The original ad declared “A hunter will never think of home while he has plenty of ‘WILSON’S COOKED CORNED BEEF.’” Kevin’s has cleverly imprinted the frog portrait on the back of a T-shirt — without the plug for Wilson’s.
Tax agreement not so streamlined
I very much enjoyed Mark Poirier’s article “A taxing concern” (June issue). But it might give a reader the impression that 42 states have in fact adopted the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement (SSTA), which is not the case. About a dozen states have passed all portions of the agreement and are considered in full compliance. A few other states have passed portions of the SSTA but not all. In fact Utah, which had passed the agreement with a delayed effective date, has since backed away from full compliance. Large states like California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida have yet to adopt the agreement. There does not appear to be any significant effort in California, Texas, or Illinois to move toward compliance any time soon.
The original effort to streamline multiple sales and use-tax laws in order to simplify a complex system has merit. But the agreement in its current form does not live up to the original goal.
John Kroll, executive director
Coalition for Appropriate Sales Tax Law Enactment
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com