Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 11:02 am
I'd like to talk about catalogs. Are they helpful? Do they generate unreasonable and unfulfillable wishes? Do they annoy you? What about a catalog that offers one thing you not only want but really need in a sea of junk? Do you order that thing or do without to avoid future catalogs?

I received a catalog called Ginny's yesterday for the second time in several years. I think the first came to my previous address. This one came with a large type-face notice, "THIS MAY BE YOUR LAST CATALOG!" Well, if it is, good. While Ginny does offer some useful items (shelves that you put on your kitchen counter to hold, for example, your canisters which then create a second level of storage for small items) and some pretty things (plates that look like large, flat red apples), many of the items either tend toward the ridiculous (octagon shaped frying pans?! or paisley print saucepans?!) or are things I do not use (non-stick pans). The shelves can be purchased elsewhere and I do not need plates, so I will ask that the company stop sending me their catalog.

I've asked NorthStyle, a woman's clothier, to stop sending their catalog. Most of their styles aren't mine and the few things I might buy I can purchase in stores where I live.

I would be more inclined, if I had more money, to buy a few things from Orvis for Women. They offer beautiful silk blouses and practical vests, a garment I like for a little extra warmth, to create a dressier look and to add some color to my outfits. However, some of the Orvis offerings are, frankly, what I might consider too "old lady." I would never wear crinkle cloth, a sort of prewrinkled cotton. Others look too preppy, a reminder of finishing school girls from the late 50s. If I give in and buy a silk blouse or a vest, will I regret the lifetime of catalogs that will follow?

Thankfully, I no longer receive the catalogs that sell hats proclaiming the wearer an "old fart" or jokey bottle openers.

On the other hand, some beautiful catalogs might cross your threshold just once, but, if you do not order, they will never appear again. A British manufacturer of cashmere sweaters and accessories, called Pure, sent me a catalog three years ago. I wish I could have settled on one item because the catalog hasn't re-appeared. (I went to their website where they offer you the British and American versions with a click of the mouse.) While I can't afford to buy anything now, the issue is would I have ever known about the company if I hadn't received a catalog? And, yes, not being able to purchase anything moots the issue.

I haven't bought anything from LLBean this year, but, I have nothing to worry about: their catalogs come, rain or shine, boom economy or recession.

I love King Arthur flour and use nothing else. However, I just do not use mixes, even KA mixes. Some of the goods KA offers, such as tapioca flour, are difficult to find elsewhere, so the catalog is valuable. I personally do not need a monthly book from them. I have written and suggested an annual catalog with flyers as updates for price changes and seasonal merchandise (Halloween cupcake papers and Christmas sugar), but, they never responded. They did shrink the size of their catalog to reduce paper use. I personally do not feel a monthly dispatch about Bensdorp cocoa or Bakewell Cream or biscuit cutters that never change is really the best way for KA to market its products. I know where these things are.

Then there are the catalogs that come with an order. I bought my granddaughters things from Magic Cabin and Hearthsong, related companies, for Christmas. I had them sent to me rather than directly to the kids because I wanted to see them first. As it turned out, one item was flawed and had to be replaced and another was disappointing. With each shipment, I received a copy of the catalog. Since the companies are related, some items are available through both catalogs. I like the firm and have patronized it for years, but one catalog is enough.
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 11:18 am
I'm glad that the rare few catalogues (mostly high end gift catalogues) have dried up mail wise. But it did drive me crazy to see how many catalogues Marietta used to get. A Giant Sequoias worth of gift and clothing catalogues in the mail each week.

I still receive the occasional Signals catalogue via email, the only place I have ever ordered from via actual catalogue myself.
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 11:42 am
Catalogs: They go without a glance from my mailbox to my trash can in one smooth motion.
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 11:48 am
I like many catalogs. I just do not like all and I like to receive no more than four a year from each firm I might buy from.

A catalog best serves the audience for a rare item. For example, I love silk long johns, which I wear both as tights and under slacks, but prior to the internet, they were next to impossible to find outside of a catalog. I have seldom shopped for toys at Toys R Us, largely because they seldom had what I wanted (outside of Star Wars figures).

They also serve people far from urban areas.
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 12:15 pm
I hope by trash can, you mean recycle bin, non? Confused
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 03:06 pm
I get a torrent of catalogs. Some go directly into recycle, but a few are spectacular in Gump's, or one that came yesterday, from
POETRY, that features silk, linen and cashmere clothing. I do order from what I see in catalogs...from Soft Surroundings, for instance, but generally do it from the company's web site. I haven't been inside a store to buy clothing for years.
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 03:33 pm
I love getting my gardening catalogs, and the spice catalog. I also get the usual junk catalogs selling stuff usually found in dollar stores. Those go into the recycling box.

I rarely order anything via a phone number or order form from catalogs. I go to their website and order directly from there. There are usually more discounts available there than what they advertise in the catalogs and you can read the reviews from other buyers. It also gives me a chance to wait a day or two for buyer's remorse to set in before completing the transaction.

I once tried cutting back on the number of catalogs I get by going to their websites and filling in the forms that request no catalogs be mailed to me. I ended up getting twice as many catalogs in the mail after that.

There is one clothing company (Redcats) that is especially bad about it. I probably get 6 catalogs a week from their various affiliated brands. Most contain the same items, just the covers and come-ons change. They are one of the companies I tried to curtail and got double back the volume of catalogs.
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 04:36 pm
When I bought a house in northern california in 1999, I became the new recipient of dozens of to me obnoxious catalogs for cheesy decorations. I called each company and got my address taken off. On my own, I still get a few mailed items I don't need any more and still sort of enjoy - the Rejuvenation lighting catalog, and the UCLA alum thing that shows up once in a while, though that doesn't count as a catalog as such.

I used catalogs in my design work before the internet became as useful as it is, and I gradually got all of those stopped. I forced myself to cancel the heirloom roses catalog, but the website remains interesting to me -
The people there are knowledgeable about conditions in various areas; I found them very helpful, plain old nice.

I also no longer get a catalog from a fellow (John Schoustra ) who ran a daylily and iris nursery in southern california (Greenwood Daylily Gardens). He was great for our clients, would deliver the rhizomes well packed himself sometimes. I don't know if he still owns it - he's younger than I am but might have retired. Incredible selection of daylilies, and he seemed to know each one personally.
Aha, from the website it looks like he's not retired..
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2011 06:25 pm
tsarstepan wrote:
I hope by trash can, you mean recycle bin, non? Confused

You must be kidding. I live in a small town. Our dump has separate areas for corrugated cardboard, glass and "other". And I suspect that when nobody is looking, they pile it all into one big truck and throw it all in a big hole somewhere in the woods.
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Reply Sun 13 Mar, 2011 10:07 am
Yesterday, a new catalog from The Vermont Country Store arrived.

This is a company which runs two stores in Vermont in addition to its catalog. It's stock and trade is nostalgia and the miraculous finding of products from long ago. If you fondly remember how someone always gave your Aunt Lillian a bottle of Evening in Paris cologne (or was it parfum?) every Christmas, this is the catalog for you.

This edition featured "easy-care lightweight bedspreads." As I looked at the catalog, I could smell dissolving moth balls. Some are very nice. I would like the Abigail Adams bedspread, supposedly a reproduction of the spread this famous couple used while living in France . . . hmmm . . . I can trace them to London and the Netherlands but not France. The real problem is the queen-size version runs $269. I've searched Marshall's on and off for years for spreads that I could afford. Sigh. Whether the store is Marshall's or Vermont Country or Pottery Barn, I never seem to find colors I can use, no matter which room in the house I try to match. I am the reason many curtains are made of white fabric.

Others, like the multi-colored chenille spreads, are things I would just as soon leave in the 1950s. Another recalls the hushed voice of my late mother-in-law as she told me about her personal decorating triumphs that sounded awful.

They sell shampoos no longer made, like Lemon Up, which are "now formulated for today's hair," whatever that means. I hope the shampoo does not contain the chemicals found in industrial floor cleaners, the laureths, we are trying to avoid.

But, I do find things that I love in this book, particularly Maja cologne from Spain that appears randomly in obscure shops. I'm considering buying a dry iron, not because I starch my clothes, but because something always seems to happen to my steam irons. The one I own now has a broken control, because a certain 8 pound cat bounded up onto the ironing board and sent the iron to the floor before I could do anything about it. However, I think I will pass on the American flag folding fan, even if it is made of cotton.
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