Woodworker’s Supply Buys Defunct Rival

At one point in the late 1990s, Lynn, MA-based Trend-Lines had annual sales of $230 million. The cataloger/ retailer of woodworking tools suffered a reversal of fortune shortly thereafter, however. And on March 25, longtime rival Woodworker’s Supply bought the company’s remains — which had been renamed after its retail arm, Woodworkers Warehouse — in a bankruptcy auction for $158,000.

Trend-Lines first went bankrupt in 2000, emerging in 2002 as Woodworkers Warehouse. Owned by Trend-Lines’ creditors and Bank of America, the company had 95 stores and 2002 sales of $111 million. But it filed for Chapter 11 once again on Dec. 2, 2003, and began a court-ordered liquidation three days later.

Among the assets purchased by Casper, WY-based Woodworker’s Supply were Woodworkers Warehouse’s 3.1-million name customer database. According to Woodworker’s Supply president/founder John Wirth Jr., Ph.D., 700,000 of those names are 24-month buyers. “We swapped 24-month files with Trend-Lines for years, and it was one of our best-performing prospecting lists,” he says.

To reactivate the Woodworkers Warehouse and Trend-Line customers, Woodworker’s Supply plans to mail a test catalog by the end of this summer that will display all three logos on the cover. Wirth is working with a catalog co-op database to conduct reactivation scoring on all the customers on the file.

“Because of the two bankruptcies and degraded service leading up to those,” Wirth says, “I’m sure these were good customers who stopped buying from Trend-Lines and Woodworkers Warehouse as much as five to seven years ago. And if those customers are still alive and well and making purchases in the market, then we’ll know it and be able to try to reactivate them by using appropriate statistical scoring methods to know which ones have the most potential.”

Wirth is also analyzing customers’ sales history “to make sure we’re making good choices for new products,” he says. Woodworker’s Supply plans to add products from former Woodworkers Warehouse vendors. In addition to the defunct company’s customer lists, Woodworker’s Supply obtained its vendor lists, inventory data, catalog content, patents, trademarks, and Web domain names. Wirth has already struck co-op deals with some of his vendors that had previously offered such deals to Woodworkers Warehouse.

Wirth, who won’t reveal his company’s annual sales, says that he’s anticipating a 10%-15% increase in revenue during the next two years resulting from the acquisition.

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