Bloomingdale’s Catalog Buyers Love New York

Few marketers are as closely identified with a city as Bloomingdale’s is with New York. This year, following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the cataloger/retailer’s New York-themed holiday merchandise is selling faster than ever before. “Customers are finding New York items, no matter how small, and buying up everything,” says Franz Weiglein, president of Bloomingdale’s Direct, the brand’s catalog and Internet arm.

For instance, each holiday season the company sells a New York-themed snow globe. The back cover of the Bloomingdale’s Holiday 2001 catalog features the “Central Park” limited-edition musical snow globe, which depicts winter scenes of New York’s Central Park, as well as key buildings from the city’s skyline — including the World Trade Center towers. Proceeds from its sales go to two AIDS-relief charities, amFAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS.

“Prior to the attacks, it wasn’t selling so well,” Weiglein says. “But now it’s a runaway success.” The item is currently backordered, and Bloomingdale’s is taking delivery of it every two weeks.

Other items that have sold out since the attacks include the amFAR/Broadway Cares Charm Bracelet, with charms of Big Apple landmarks such as the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty; an umbrella featuring the New York skyline; and a tote bag featuring the skyline at night. “We’ve also added items from our inventory, such as red, white, and blue jewelry pins, to the mix” in subsequent holiday mailings, Weiglein says. “And we had a Christopher Radko Big Apple ornament that has been a huge seller.”

New Yorkers aren’t the only ones buying the merchandise. “I had a call from a woman in Florida who pleaded with me to restock an ornament featuring the New York skyline that we had sold out of,” Weiglein says. At that time, Bloomingdale’s wasn’t reordering much of the New York merchandise because, Weiglein says, the company didn’t want to take advantage of the situation. “But we have since decided to merchandise the New York items back into the catalog and attach charitable contributions to them,” he says. The charities and the percentage of profits that are donated vary.

The Bloomingdale’s catalog and Website will continue to stock the items during the holiday season for as long as they are able. But for spring, Weiglein says, “we’re trying very hard not to go after this type of product.” That does not mean, however, that the company will not sell any New York-related merchandise.