After Struggling with Declining Sales in recent years, the Benedictine monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey who own and operate religious gifts marketer Abbey Press, have closed its catalog and Website.

John Wilson, Archabbey’s business manager/interim general manager of Abbey Press, says the consumer catalog division mailed its final edition in December and the Website shut down in March. “The products that were previously offered in both of these venues have been liquidated,” Wilson says.

The catalog division had been in business since the early 1960s and last year mailed 6.5 million catalogs. St. Meinrad, IN-based Abbey Press has four other divisions: printing, One Caring Place Publications, trade marketing, and an on-campus gift shop.

The monks felt that the catalog business “was past its peak as a dominant business model,” Wilson says. The monks are now focusing on a new business, Snail’s Pace, which sells specialty paper products such as cards, wrapping paper and journals. Wilson says the monks expect Snail’s Pace to grow into a business that will help support their monastery.

They plan to sell the Snail’s Pace line via a Website, and eventually in retail outlets. “We are hoping to launch in early fall, and there will be some form of abbreviated marketing piece for the fundraising portion of the business,” he notes.

Wilson says Snail’s Pace will reflect changing marketing paradigms: “You’ll see less money spent on advertising, catalogs, direct mail and the like, and more effort put into reaching exactly the right customer prospects through social media channels, the Internet and through media that they are currently consuming.”

Snail’s Pace is already connecting with future customers through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog, Wilson adds. “As we bring the products to market, this customer interaction and input will help us deliver exactly the products they need and want.”

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