Z Gallerie tries to expand via mail

Although Z Gallerie has 60 stores in 19 states, the home furnishings retailer isn’t a nationally recognized brand yet. But the Gardena, CA-based company has designs on expanding retail operations beyond the West Coast and the Southeast, and print catalogs may aid in that effort.

Founded in 1979, Z Gallerie celebrated its 25th anniversary by releasing its first-ever print catalog — a 20-page gift guide that featured holiday offerings. The books were mailed to Z Gallerie’s entire database of 320,000 names, plus additional copies were sent to each store.

According Mike Zeiden, who co-owns Z Gallerie with brother Joe Zeiden and sister Carole Malfatti, the catalog was inspired by the positive reaction the company received from a holiday merchandise book it released to local media in late August. The products that appeared in the catalog that mailed just after Thanksgiving 2004 were holiday-oriented accessories, such as candleholders, glassware, and artwork. Z Gallerie’s stores sell primarily midrange and upscale furniture, bedding, window treatments, tabletop items, and accessories.

Zeiden says that online sales increased significantly during December as a result of the mailing, though he won’t provide specifics. Zeiden hopes that the mailing will continue to increase online sales as well as raise brand awareness and support Z Gallerie’s retail business, which remains its primary focus.

“We are already growing in the Southeast and would like to have a store in New York City within the next year or two. And we would like to continue to add more stores in the East over the next five years,” Zeiden says. Should he include prospects in further mailings, Z Gallerie could use the vehicle to raise its profile in locales where it doesn’t yet have stores and to help determine which regions have the most interest in its offerings.

Although he says he’s pleased with the results from the catalog, Zeiden doesn’t have a second mailing scheduled just yet. But he’s exploring expanding the catalog to better represent the company’s product line. “Ideally we’d like to consider sending out catalogs three or four times per year,” he says, “not just around holiday time.”

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