Appeal to Women Keys Tavolo Acquisition

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OurHouse.com's recent acquisition of upscale cookware e-tailer Tavolo Inc was sparked by an unexpected number of women who have visited OurHouse's site -- and its kitchen and appliances section -- since the home improvement e-commerce site launched a little more than a year ago.


"What we've seen is a growing female consumer on the Web," said Gary Briggs, chief marketing officer at OurHouse.com, which is owned by privately held OurHouse Inc., Evanston, IL. "We thought it'd be about 55 percent males, and it's turned out to be 55 percent female."


Retail chain Ace Hardware owns just under 20 percent of OurHouse.


Under the acquisition's terms, OurHouse will add more than 10,000 Tavolo products -- which range from cutlery to bake ware to coffee and tea accessories -- to its offering. Tavolo, San Rafael, CA, will operate under OurHouse's management team.


While OurHouse has established advertising relationships with several companies, including RedEnvelope.com, Hallmark.com and Eziba.com, the Tavolo acquisition is the company's first. Briggs said that it is likely that other acquisitions will follow.


Tavolo has mailed sampler catalogs as a prospecting tool to drive traffic to its Web site since the 1999 winter holiday season. However, Briggs said that the new management will focus on direct mail for now.


"As [Tavolo was] reducing marketing spending, [the company] started going more and more towards direct mail postcards, and [from] an efficiency standpoint, they found that that was really good for them," Briggs said. He added that OurHouse will "look to expand back to something that's more of a full catalog as we get more experience."


Tavolo's Web site, which was relaunched last March to correspond with the company's second catalog drop, was originally launched as digitalchef.com in 1997, and became tavolo.com during the summer of 1999.


OurHouse also recently entered into a partnership with L.L. Bean Home, but Briggs declined to disclose any details of the relationship.
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