Blair Shoppe Comes Home With New Name

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Blair Shoppe gets a new name as the first Blair Home catalogs hit the mail today.


"Over the years, Blair Shoppe sold quite an assortment of products -- everything from consumer electronics to exercise equipment," said Pat Kennedy, vice president of home products at Blair Corp., Warren, PA. "In the last few years, the catalog has begun to focus more on home textiles, such as draperies, bedding, bath, etc. So the name change was really a reflection of what the catalog represents today. We had been talking about this change for close to two years."


There will be few changes, however, other than the new name. The size will be 100 pages, a number that "hasn't changed in years," Kennedy said. Product categories and the amount of space devoted to those categories will be unchanged from last year. The number of items will remain the same as in Blair's previous spring catalogs, and there will be no new merchandise. Circulation also will remain unchanged.


"Blair is Blair," Kennedy said. "You're not going to notice any change in the book, just a slight name change."


However, this year the catalog will use the same size and font as the Blair Menswear and Blair Womenswear titles.


There will be three main drops that will include "a little re-mail activity." Six different covers are being used. The company produces six catalogs each year that mail in January, March, May, July, September and November. Circulation varies from less than 2 million to more than 3 million, depending on the time of year. The target audience is female, 40 to 65 years old.


"You don't have the margins in the hard goods areas that you have in textiles," Kennedy said. "Hard goods [is a] business that does not have the markups built into it that textiles do. It's a tougher business, especially if you're in the catalog business."


No change in strategy is planned regarding the targeting of prospects versus the house file. The company's approach involves gaining wallet share and reactivating customers. Most mailings target the Blair file. The company tests outside lists and shared databases but is not currently in a rollout mode with any of them.


"Our expectations have not changed from any time in the past," Kennedy said. "The name change really reflects the current merchandise assortment of the book. We have had this type of assortment for the past 24 months or so. In effect, the name change is really just a catch-up to where we already are."


While the company would not disclose response rates to individual catalogs, its average order size is in the "upper $80s" and remains "fairly constant" throughout the year, Kennedy said.


The company solicits orders via outbound e-mail campaigns. Blair.com is slightly more than a year old, and its volume represents 5 percent of orders, but the channel is growing rapidly. Sixty-five percent of the company's orders are generated via phone, and the rest comes from mail.


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