Williamsburg Shuttering Print Catalog

It’s the end of the line for the Williamsburg catalog: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced Dec. 4. it will close its mail order catalog next spring and lay off 14 employees.

A steady decline in the catalog business prompted Colonial Williamsburg to halt the print catalog, as “customers are increasingly turning to the Web for their shopping needs,” says Jim Easton, vice president of products for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

What’s more, expenses for paper, postage, photography, and printing have steadily risen in recent years. “It did not make economic sense to keep printing and mailing the catalog,” Easton says.

Williamsburg spent several million dollars on the print catalog this year. Its annual circulation was about 5 million, Easton says. The last catalog will be mailed in January. “This change will allow for significant savings and reduced financial risk in today’s unpredictable business environment,” he says.

Sales of Williamsburg products support the preservation, research and educational programs of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the organization that oversees the restored colonial capital in Williamsburg, VA.

The foundation will continue to sell products online, at its 20 retail stores and through select retailers across the country. The Web store, www.williamsburgmarketplace.com, will be marketed through e-mail campaigns, in-store promotions and through traffic from www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Television is another retail outlet: Colonial Williamsburg made its debut on QVC this past February and also appeared on the home shopping channel in September and November with segements dedicated to holiday decorating and shopping.

Williamsburg will also focus on its licensing program, Easton says. “Williamsburg has always worked with licensees to build and grow our retail base, and we will continue to do that moving forward.”