Backword & Response

Santa Paws? It’s never too soon to start thinking about decorating your dog for the holidays, and the Casual Living gift catalog has the perfect solution. The company’s Holiday Preview book (which, by the way, arrived long before summer began heating up) features a Santa Claws Costume: a red suit specially designed for canines, in which the front paws go through the trouser legs while two white-mittened fake arms dangle at the sides. This $22 get-up, which comes in small (Yorkie), medium (beagle), and large (German shepherd) sizes, is sure to delight all of your tipsy holiday party guests-and embarrass your dog beyond belief.

Lights, cameras, rodents! >From Catalog Age to The Tonight Show: Last month, catalog entrepreneur Debbie Ducommun, owner of the Rat-a-log, brought along several of her little rodent friends to sit on the couch beside Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Ducommun and her catalog, which sells accessories for pet rats, were featured in our July issue’s “Small Catalogs Forum” department. Ducommun says she enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame-which turned out to be closer to 4 minutes-but notes that bringing 10 rats to TV land “was way too many.” When trying to coax a baby rat out of her pocket, she had to keep placing the other rats on Leno’s desk. “But they kept crawling off the desk and back onto the couch because they wanted to sit with me,” she says, which greatly amused The Tonight Show’s studio audience.

Thinking inside the box It’s our job to convince customers to buy goods and have them delivered to their homes, even though few people these days are actually home to receive their packages. Now, North Kansas City, MO-based entrepreneur David Porter has come up with a concept to ease conumers’ worries about home deliveries.

Called Smart Box, the secure, electronically networked device (which is also climate-controlled, in case you’re not home when your pizza or ice cream cake arrives) can be attached on, by, or through the wall of a house so that the deliverer can open the box from outside the home (via an access code you’d give him); you can then open the box like a closet or a refrigerator from inside.

The idea is still in development, but interested parties can view the prototype on the Internet ( Porter could be onto something, but our biggest complaint after viewing photos of the Smart Box is that it looks hideous. A giant refrigerated safe attached to the outside of your home is not likely to enhance real estate value.

Bean’s bright idea Three cheers to L.L. Bean. In the first spread of its fall L.L. Kids book, the apparel and outdoor gear cataloger touts that it “has 35 products that reflect our concern for your child’s safety.” The products in question are trimmed with a reflective material that’s more easily visible in the dark. And Bean even includes a peel-off reflective patch that shoppers can place on their kids’ clothing. What a wonderful way of providing customers with a sample and engendering good will.

What you didn’t read… Even pros sometimes get cranky, and our Annual Catalog Awards judges were no exception. During a trying day of judging, no one was shy about expressing displeasure with the books that came up short. Just a few of the comments you won’t read in our Awards profiles:

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