opinion & response

Aug 01, 2004 9:30 PM  By

Getting All Political on Us

While I generally appreciate and certainly learn much from my subscription to Catalog Age, I wanted to bring to your attention my surprise at the inclusion of this paragraph in a recent e-newsletter blurb about tariff increases on Chinese furniture: “The Bush administration’s action follows charges by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry that it has not aggressively enforced U.S. trade laws, especially against China, to keep jobs from moving overseas, according to a Reuters report.”

This paragraph offers no helpful business information and immediately struck me as political editorializing. I do not look to Catalog Age for political opinions, and have generally trusted that you are presenting useful, unbiased information. Jabs like these — no matter what party or politician is targeted — diminish that trust. There are plenty of lobbyists working on various political fronts for the issues affecting catalogers. I would hope that this newsletter and magazine could continue to remain a source of information rather than opinion.
Andra L. Moss

The Spoof! Goofs on J.C. Whitney

You know you’ve made it when satirical news Website The Spoof! makes fun of you. So congrats to Chicago-based auto parts cataloger J.C. Whitney, which according to a Spoof! story in June was said to have unveiled its new JCW-X1 — the company’s first turnkey automobile — to the Detroit automotive press. According to The Spoof!’s report, the catalog’s CEO “B.Q. Whitney” says the production of the pimped ride was a natural progression: “We were setting around one day in my office, and T.J. (T.J. Whitney, brother of B.Q. and Chief Product Manager of J.C. Whitney) laughed and said that he thought we had enough parts in our catalog to make an entire car. We both looked at each other, and I knew what he was thinking…let’s do it…let’s build a car! It was a great idea, I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner.…” Perhaps in an upcoming edition The Spoof! will investigate reports that New Britain, CT-based medical and surgical supplies cataloger Moore Medical Corp. has been busy in its laboratory working on a creation of “monstrous” proportions.

If You Bus Them, They Will Come

Here’s an idea to steal for your next warehouse or outlet sale. Piggyback your sale on to a local crowd-drawing event and offer bus service to your site. Wausau, WI-based athletic apparel cataloger Eastbay in June rented a bus to take people from a local basketball tournament to its stores for its annual Summer Sizzle Sale. The buses were scheduled to run every half-hour during store hours; Eastbay was expecting up to 5,000 people to hit the sales. Eastbay is used to creating a stir in Wausau: For more than 20 years it held tent sales that attracted more than 25,000 people each summer. But the company says that its Website and Final Score catalog have enabled it to get rid of inventory more quickly.

Achtung eBay!

EBay has become an invaluable tool for marketers to liquidate overstocks, but it’s also apparently not a bad way to unload stolen goods. A postal worker in Germany this past spring admitted to using the site to auction off undelivered packages. The larcenous letter carrier began stashing packages and selling their contents on eBay in the summer of 2003. Although the German postal service was aware that parcels frequently disappeared on this worker’s route, it could not prove any foul play until a consumer gave the investigation a hand. The customer had ordered a mouthpiece for his clarinet that never showed up. When the customer found an identical item on eBay, he bought it and notified the police. The clarinet mouthpiece was found at the postman’s girlfriend’s apartment; a search of the postal worker’s apartment turned up more than 100 missing packages.

Cataloger’s Survey Says: What’s the Beef?

Do you know your prime rib from your T-bone? Many consumers could stand to brush up on their beef knowledge, according to a recent study commissioned by Chicago-based meats cataloger Allen Bros. The survey of more than 1,000 consumers revealed that half of the respondents knew nothing or next to nothing about beef grades and quality. That’s not good, considering that beef prices have hit record highs thanks to low supply (due in part to mad cow disease scares) and high demand (as a result of the popularity of high-protein diets). For the record, the three quality grades of beef established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are USDA Prime, the best grade, which includes plenty of marbling (fat flecks within the lean); USDA Choice, with less marbling than Prime; and USDA Select, a leaner grade that’s uniform in quality. Now let’s fire up that grill.

Road Runner Lends Kids a Helping Hand

Running apparel and gear cataloger Road Runner Sports is helping its customers help disabled kids participate in sports. The San Diego-based marketer is encouraging customers to donate to Athletes Helping Athletes, an organization founded in 2000 to provide handcycles, wheelchairs, prosthetics, and other adaptive sports equipment to children with disabilities. The cover of the company’s Summer Preview 2004 edition that mailed to its Run America Club members promotes the charity with a special offer: For every donation of more than $10, the cataloger is providing a $10 gift certificate for the customer’s next Road Runner Sports purchase. Everybody’s a winner with this promotion — particularly the kids who receive the equipment to get them off the sidelines and into the game.


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