Design Toscano goes to Faire

In Design Toscano’s catalog of European reproductions for the home and garden, the merchandise includes a number of Italian Renaissance statues and wall pilasters. With this in mind, the $22 million cataloger’s decision to promote Renaissance Entertainment Corp.’s Renaissance Faire isa logical one.

“This is an example of creative thinking by a cataloger using an alternative media,” says Michael Grant, a marketing and database consultant in Scarsdale, NY. “The cataloger is providing a value-added service, while the Renaissance Faire receives more traffic because of the promotion.” And by making copies of the catalog available at the fairs, Design Toscano may also acquire new customers.

Louisville, CO-based Renaissance Entertainment contacted Design Toscano owner Michael Stopka in April in the hopes of leveraging the mailer’s database of 1.5 million names and more than 300,000 active buyers. Design Toscano customers resemble Renaissance Faire attendees, says Renaissance vice president Don Gaiti: They possess both considerable disposable income and an interest in European history. “The people who attend a Renaissance Faire are not the same people who will go to an amusement park,” Gaiti says. The fairs feature costumed artisans and entertainers typical of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Hazy expectations Roughly 150,000 Design Toscano customers received a 4″ x 8″ Renaissance Faire brochure in their Early Fall catalogs, which dropped in July. Renaissance Entertainment Corp. supplied the cataloger with three editions of the brochures, promoting fairs in the Chicago/Milwaukee, San Francisco, and New York areas. It also gave Design Toscano a list of which zip codes were to receive which brochures. Following a merge/purge, printer Quad/Graphics bound the brochures into the appropriate books prior to drop-shipping them to postal facilities. An additional 30,000 catalogs were sent to each fair location.

“We went into this thing not knowing what to expect,” says Stopka. “I think we’ll both benefit by using each other’s strong brand names and databases.” Because this year’s final Renaissance Faire is Sept. 20, Stopka can’t yet report on the results.

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