Smith & Wesson Debuts Home, Apparel Book

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Smith & Wesson aims to expand its brand's firepower by going beyond its image as a marketer and manufacturer of firearms with the launch Oct. 1 of Crossings, featuring casual apparel, home decor, bedding, jewelry, accessories, holiday items, dinnerware and other items mainly targeting females.


"Crossings has nothing to do with the firearms," said Amy Armstrong, senior vice president of corporate communications at Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., Scottsdale, AZ. "It's a whole new approach for Smith & Wesson. Everybody knows we're a gun manufacturer. [This is] a total expansion of the brand that has an almost 89 percent recognition level by Americans."


The company has produced catalogs such as Smith & Wesson Handguns and Smith & Wesson Accessories for about six years that market its firearms as well as target the law enforcement community with items such as handcuffs and other restraints.


The 32-page book features nearly six items per page. The targeted group was more than 60 percent female and mostly college-educated, while the age range was generally 40-60.


About 30 percent of the book's recipients came from the company's house file, all of whom had purchased from its catalogs or Web site. The balance consisted of prospects meeting one of two criteria: catalog shoppers or apparel and home decor buyers.


"The risk with a lot of catalogers is they take something no one knows about, and they put products in there and rely on the strength of products to deliver new customers," Armstrong said. "The name Smith & Wesson opens a lot of doors. You only associate the company with guns, but this is a great way to extend the brand as being about more than just guns."


Smith & Wesson-logoed items account for about 10 percent of the products in the book, which has a circulation that Armstrong described as being "several hundred thousand."


Expected to be a top seller is the silk shantung blouse on the cover, which is described on page 3 and priced at $155. Also expected to "fly off the shelves" are Star-Spangled Hearts, which are blown-glass heart ornaments that can go on a tree, featuring red, white and blue colors, with glitter. A set of two goes for $15.


Only three items are safety related: a 911 First Response Knife ($59.95), a child-safety kit ($19.99) and a lightweight knife that includes a safety whistle ($26.95).


A holiday book is set to be mailed in November and will be "about the same size [and contain] pretty close to the same number of items."


She would not reveal the expected average order amount or response rate for the current catalog. About 10 to 20 percent of sales are expected to come from www.crossingsbysw.com.


The per-piece cost to produce the catalog was "well within the range of 40 to 75 cents, not including postage."


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