opinion & response

Jul 01, 2001 9:30 PM  By

Word on the Sheet

In your April Backword (“Sheets Fit Only for a King or Queen”), I found your jab at cataloger Anthropologie for not stocking full- or twin-size sheets a weak argument.

For years, various catalogers have offered wonderful-looking sheet sets only in twin size (designs presumably aimed at children) and received no criticisms for this. And clothing catalogers routinely do not offer certain sizes: no adult sizing in many children’s clothes catalogs, comparable items not offered for men and women in catalogs that carry both men’s and women’s items, and offering limited color choices by gender. But I don’t recall ever reading criticisms about any of these.

Most retailers and catalogers carry the sizes and choices that fit the demographics of their average buyers. I would bet that Anthropologie’s demographics have shown that most of its buyers sleep two adults to the bed and that the bed is most likely a queen size (a quick trip to most furniture stores or mattress retailers would confirm this simple preference).

I am not making this quantum leap to the conclusion you suggest, that queen- and king-size beds are “over the top” or in some way politically incorrect. And I expected something a little less petty from your publication.
L. Lawrence
graphics manager, JAC

Clearing Up Fuzzy Math

In your April cover article “Layoffs: Who’s Getting Hit?” you say that Lillian Vernon laid off 40 employees, or 12% of the workforce. I could not believe a company could mail more than 150 million catalogs a year with a staff of 325. A quick check on the Internet puts the employee count at approximately 1,500. Therefore the 40 people let go represent 2.7% of the workforce, not 12%.

Then on the Backword page, you have a headline about a .003% response rate for an item about a family that received 900 catalogs in one year but had ordered only from three companies during that time. That headline caught my eye because I wondered how anybody could get 33,333 catalogs and buy only once. That is almost 100 catalogs a day in a mailbox! As it turns out, the family bought three times from 900 catalogs, for a response rate of .3%.

I hope in the future you read your magazine with a little bit more care before sending it out to us dumb readers.
David Lawson
Prometheus Digital

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Regarding the Lillian Vernon statistic, in the text we say that the 40 employees were “12% of its salaried staff.” Of course, we should have added the word “salaried” in the chart as well as in the text for those who skip the copy and read only the chart.

As for the Backword item…let’s just say that several of us here had double-checked that figure, calculator in hand, and never caught the mistake. I guess there’s a reason we’re in editorial rather than accounting.

And Now, We Present Some Seriously Unlikely Bedfellows…

If you missed the Annual Catalog Awards presentation June 6 at the Annual Catalog Conference in Boston, you also missed Catalog Age’s tongue-in-cheek take on industry mergers and acquisitions. Below, our interpretation of the fruits of some not-so-logical catalog M&A deals.