The 2000s haven’t treated European gifts and collectibles cataloger House of Tyrol very well. And after a steady stream of harmful circumstances that ended up sending 2003 sales into a tailspin, the parent company of the Tyrol International catalog said on April 23 that the catalog mailed in early April would be its last. The company will wind down operations and close by the end of June.
To publish a summer catalog, Cleveland, GA-based Tyrol needed $1 million in capital that it couldn’t get, says owner/president/CEO Bernd Nagy. “We had problems in keeping our promises to our printer in a timely manner,” he says. “We couldn’t obtain cash we needed, and sales were down so much that we couldn’t cover printing, postage, and production.”
The company, whose sales peaked at $15 million in 1999, started going downhill in 2000. “Response just wasn’t there,” Nagy says. “Then came Sept. 11, then came the postal increases of 2001. Customer confidence then fell, shipping costs increased, catalog production costs increased, and the first three and a half months of this year were just horrible.”
Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was customer backlash against the company’s German-made goods. “This year, we got quite a good stack of letters from our customers saying they wouldn’t do business with the German-based manufacturing companies that supplied us, because Germany was opposed to the stand the U.S. took in Iraq,” Nagy says. “It was enough to make us sick—some were not very nice.”
House of Tyrol, which employed 85 people at its peak, was founded by Nagy and his wife, Linda, in 1969. It once operated three stores but closed two of them. Nagy hasn’t decided whether to keep the Cleveland, GA, store in business beyond June. The catalog was launched in 1972.