America's Shopping Mall Hopes The Female Athlete Will Score Points

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While The Female Athlete's back-to-school catalog will most likely look similar to its predecessors, it is the first book to be produced under new management.

Two-year-old America's Shopping Mall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, acquired The Female Athlete in March, and its management is deciding how the book's design, which will be done inhouse, will change. However, the company already has decided that the 48-page book will remain in the slim-jim format. The Female Athlete books previously were designed by Catalogs by Design, King of Prussia, PA.

The back-to-school catalog will be sent to female volleyball and basketball players age 7 to 20 in early August. The catalog sells athletic clothing, sports gear and accessories.

"We really like the catalog, so we're going to try to achieve a similar look. But it won't be exactly the same, nor should it be. It'll have a little bit of our personality in it," said Debby Solan, vice president of marketing and merchandising for America's Shopping Mall's three consumer brands.

America's Shopping Mall also owns and operates leather goods catalog Deerskin and low- to mid-priced gifts and housewares catalog Joan Cook. In addition, the company produces Remarkable Products, a business-to-business office-supplies catalog.

Solan declined to say how many catalogs the marketer will mail for the back-to-school season. The company plans to produce a book for each of the four seasons, with remails, said Lori Rutishauser, merchandise manager for the catalog. However, she declined to say how many Female Athlete catalogs America's Shopping Mall will mail in total per year. Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ, is handling list brokerage for The Female Athlete.

Solan also declined to say how many customers are in The Female Athlete house file. In March 2000, The Female Athlete -- then run in Babylon, NY, by co-founders Lori Schmid and Mary Tenety, who are no longer involved with the catalog's operation -- distributed its spring book to 2.5 million mailboxes. Schmid and Tenety dropped the first Female Athlete catalog in October 1997 in test quantities. For the next two years, the company mailed 100,000 to 250,000 books per mailing. For the 1999 holiday season, the catalog was sent to 1.5 million mailboxes.

America's Shopping Mall has not decided officially what company it will use to print The Female Athlete books. Perry Judds Inc., Waterloo, WI, is the leading candidate, though no final decision has been made, Solan said.

The Female Athlete's Web site, -- launched in October 1998 -- is not e-commerce-enabled during this transition. However, America's Shopping Mall expects to launch a new Female Athlete site in late July or early August. Last year, Schmid told DM News that 15 percent of the company's orders were generated online.

"In the meantime, if anybody visits our Web site, we try to offer them specials, incentives; we're trying to gather e-mail addresses. We're certainly encouraging interaction," Solan said.

Visitors to the site also can request a catalog and read about Christi Stoker, the winner of the Female Athlete Inspirational Contest.


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