The Good Catalog Co. has met a bad ending. Pleasantville, NY-based parent company Reader’s Digest has terminated the Good Catalog and Gifts.com print catalogs.
The catalog URLs, however, still exist — as “virtual brands” run by Monterey, CA-based e-commerce technology firm Altura International, says Bruce Sellers, Altura’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. The two Websites now resemble Altura’s CatalogCity.com, an online catalog mall.
According to Sellers, Reader’s Digest will maintain ownership of the Good Catalog and Gifts.com URLs for the time being. Altura and Reader’s Digest will share revenue, and all merchandise will be supplied by Altura’s network of merchants.
Reader’s Digest had been trying to sell Good Catalog and Gifts.com since the spring, says spokesperson Bill Adler, “but we couldn’t find a buyer. We were winding down the staff and discounting the merchandise when Altura stepped in at the eleventh hour and saved the two brands. We are very happy that service to our customers will not be disrupted.”
Founded in 1992 by mail order veterans Bill Nicolai, Barb Todd, and Sandy Anderson, Good Catalog had a unique business model in that merchandise suppliers paid for advertising space in the catalog, and all products were drop-shipped from the vendor. According to list firm Mokrynski & Associates, Good Catalog last mailed in June; its data card reveals that Good Catalog has 99,800 12-month mail order buyers. The average order was $155.
Reader’s Digest bought Good Catalog in October 1998. It launched Gifts.com as an online-only marketer in October 1999 and debuted the print catalog in November 2001. The magazine and marketing conglomerate then brought Good Catalog under the same management as that of Gifts.com. Although Reader’s Digest is the majority owner of Gifts.com, Denver-based holding company Star Tech owns a 20% share.
Adler admits that Reader’s Digest “hadn’t been able to operate Gifts.com and the Good Catalog profitably.” Though he won’t comment on the exact number of layoffs associated with the agreement, he says that a staff of three in Portland, OR, are helping with the transition.