Opinion and Response

Jun 01, 2003 9:30 PM  By

Don’t Count Us Out

Just got your 20th anniversary edition of Catalog Age. Congratulations!

Looking through the issue I came across a chart entitled “Goodbye/Hello” on the bottom of page 29. In the chart you cite many list firms that have unfortunately gone out of business over the years. You also list companies that have been formed since 1983. Absent from that list is NRL Direct, which was established in 1988 and has been providing list brokerage and management services to some of the industry’s leading catalogers for the past 15 years.

These titles include Frontgate, Ballard Designs, Herrington, Johnston & Murphy, Paragon, Improvements, and Home Trends. I feel that NRL certainly should have been included among those companies mentioned.

Bruce J. Kimmel, vice president
NRL Management

Waxing On About Waxers

Having started out my advertising career in “cutting and pasting” in a local newspaper (where I eventually became the production manager), I got a kick out of your April 15 editorial (“20 Years’ Worth of Epiphanies”). I remember burnt fingers from the wax machine rollers….but going further back than you, I remember the women (and sometimes men) typing in copy that became yellow perforated tape (can’t remember the “official” name for that) that we fed through a Dymo machine (which when it broke, I was responsible for fixing!) that gave us the wet galleys that I would then cut and paste!

Our first big brochure here at Mokrynski & Associates emphasized the fact that we had OVERNIGHT DELIVERY and FACSIMILE MACHINES, which was big time back then. We live in an amazing era!

Thanks for the issue — it was very good!

Susan Zuniga, director of advertising
Mokrynski & Associates


Leon Henry, CEO of Scarsdale, NY-based list firm Leon Henry, on the overlap of the Annual Catalog Conference and the DMD New York conference this year:

Here’s a conundrum: How to get from the Annual Catalog Conference in San Francisco to New York in time to participate in the DMD New York Conference & Expo when both shows are going on at the same time.

There is an answer: the redeye. And there will be people doing this, but I will not. I will miss the DMD New York conference for the first time ever. I bring this up not to belabor the already obvious duplication of events and the extra expense for participants with catalog customers, but to point out some of the changes in our industry.

The first DMD was in the New York Hilton, where every one was held through 2001. It was low-key — no exhibits, plenty of time to schmooze. Appointments made weeks and months in advance did not consume the attention of attendees, and people actually made commitments for goods and services during impromptu meetings. Best of all, it was over after a very full day.

Over the years, the show expanded, adding one, then two, then three floors of exhibits. We were exhibitors starting in the second year. Some exhibitors were in the same place for the entire run at the Hilton — speaking of long-run theatrical experiences. New media came on board before it was designated as “new media.” Computers made their entrance; zip code went from five to nine digits, and e-mail and the Web became de rigueur.

Giveaways to build traffic at exhibits that became larger and higher became more elaborate and more competitive. Appointments were needed, and scorecards to keep track of them became laptops that became Palms and Blackberrys. Casual camaraderie became competitive, and business became a function of reviewing notes taken at the hectic meetings during the day that became three.

Throughout all the changes, Leon Henry has continued to attend the show, and the company will be at its 37th DMD New York in a new spot with a double booth. As I said earlier, I won’t be there, though. I’ll miss all of you but I can’t bring myself to do the redeye after all these years.

Fit to Be Tied in a New York Minute

Cataloger Lee Allison certainly has one-to-one marketing down pat, to judge from the following letter by Ruth Rama-Witt, which appeared in The New York Times’s “Metropolitan Diary” on May 5.

A few weeks ago I was shopping at a men’s store in the Flatiron district for a birthday present for my husband. Of course I had procrastinated, and his birthday was the next day. I was looking at the sale neckties and just couldn’t find one I liked. (Maybe that’s why they were on sale.) I turned to a well-dressed man next to me and asked if he thought the tie I was holding up would be too wild for my relatively conservative husband. Without hesitation, he confirmed that it would be.

Then he offered up one in return. “Yuck,” I said. Then I showed him another. “Nope,” was his reply. We played this game for a while until he finally said, “This is the tie you want,” as he pointed to the one he was wearing. “Exactly!” I said. Then he confessed that he was in fact a necktie designer named Lee Allison, visiting from Chicago. Since I seemed to be in such a time crunch, he even offered to sell me the tie right off his neck after saying that he’d just put it on for the first time that morning. But I also needed a gift box, which of course he didn’t have.

He then called his studio to see if he had another in stock — he did. Given my last-minute predicament, he offered to pay for overnight shipping to New York and gave me the name of his assistant, whom I could call directly to expedite the order. I was saved.

Back at my office, I visited his Website, just to make sure he was for real. And sure enough, he was not only legit, he had the most amazing ties, with the funniest stories for each one. And there was my tie, PowerDot in navy. I called the company, bought it and got it the next day, packaged in a perfectly square cube-size box (no ubiquitous tie box to give it away). My husband loved it almost as much as the story that came with it.

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