Opinion and Response

Mar 01, 2002 10:30 PM  By

A Gaffe of Biblical Proportions

I would like to respond to your Backword item (“Sell Me, Don’t Save Me,” January issue) regarding our use of the Biblical quote on Sierra Trading Post’s Winter 2001 order form. You state that our quote was placed there either to leverage off the “boosted interest in spirituality…” due to the tragic events of Sept. 11 or as a “lovely sentiment… during the holiday season.” Neither statement is true. We have placed a quote from Jesus on every order blank since our first mailing in 1986. Likewise, we have always printed our three “We believe” statements on page two, particularly no. 3: “That our business ethics must be consistent with the faith of the owners in Jesus Christ and His teachings.”

These two brief statements in the context of an entire catalog are not an attempt to force anyone to accept my beliefs. They are merely expressions of who I am, what I believe, and an invitation to be held accountable. If I hold my beliefs in private, how would this enable our customers to hold me accountable for living and operating my business consistently with what I believe?
Keith Richardson
president/founder, Sierra Trading Co.

Warm Words from a ‘Scentsative’ Subject

After the New Year holiday, I returned to my desk to find my name in the January Backword (“Scents and Sensibility”). What a neat surprise! In light of all the [anthrax in the mail] hoopla, I was happy to set the record straight about the smell this particular customer experienced with the Crate & Barrel catalog.

The office is teasing me because my name was spelled incorrectly, but I remind everyone that no good deed goes unnoticed! When I was talking to this particular individual, I jokingly mentioned that I hoped this would not appear in the pages of Catalog Age. Be careful what you wish for…

I really enjoy the magazine and find it a helpful resource tool. Keep up the good work!
Nancy Cushman
catalogue production manager, Crate & Barrel

High Praise for Editor’s Page

Regarding your January Editor’s Page (“It Beats Counting Sheep”), thank you for one of the freshest, most interesting articles that I have ever taken time to read. Your observations/questions hit more bull’s-eyes without the typical “blah blah.”
Carl Kramer
marketing manager, Gilson Co.

Gettin’ Juggy with It

It sounds like a high-tech hoax in a Benny Hill skit: British general merchandise retailer Debenhams recently had to shut down its Website to fix an embarrassing glitch in the search function. When users typed in the search word “jugs,” presumably to look for milk pitchers and the like, the saucy search engine displayed listings of the online store’s bras. Word of the titillating tracking system spread like wildfire among U.K. Webheads and their friends via e-mail. Debenhams said it was an unfortunate coincidence that the assigned search code for a selection of products — including the bras — just happened to be JUG or JUGS. Needless to say, the red-faced retailer has since changed the code.

Is the Sword Mightier Than the Machete?

Maybe it’s just us, but when we think of Lord of the Rings-themed merchandise, we think of kids or adults who played Dungeons and Dragons for way too long — not hardcore hunters and military enthusiasts. So it was a bit of a surprise this past winter when we noticed that the home page of the U.S. Cavalry site featured a Lord of the Rings sword. Unlike the other weaponry sold in the catalog, the officially licensed reproduction of the sword from the hit movie is for display only — we think, anyway. It seems the sword has magic pricing powers as well: When we first saw the item on the site in early January, it sold for $139.88; when we went back to check it 11 days later, the price was $149.88. (Even more strange, when we went back to the site the second time it said “Save $70” under the product on the home page.)

Radio Shack Not Good Buddy to Truckers

We spend most of our time trying not to anger the people driving 18-wheelers, but it seems that Radio Shack has stuck its head in the lion’s mouth. In a sales catalog mailed around New Year’s, the electronics retailer included the following copy: “You’re on your wireless, when suddenly an 18-wheeler is in your lane, cutting you off! Good thing you had both hands on the wheel, thanks to the hands-free wireless headset from Radio Shack…” After a flurry of angry replies from truckers — ironically, among the retailer’s best customers — the company issued a statment on Jan. 2: “We sincerely apologize to members of the trucking profession…. In the future we commit to showing more sensitivity….” We think there’s way too much political correctness in the world today, but we recognize that Radio Shack had its hands tied, if you will, on this one. After all, the company is no doubt relying on said truckers to get the hands-free headsets to its stores.

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