A Chat with Frank Glaser, president/owner, James’ and Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy
CS: You also said that when you started the catalog in 1999, you lacked experience. What specifically did you struggle with in those first two years?
FG: The biggest thing is that we didn’t understand the basic concepts of how to market to customers in the mail order industry. And the actual construction of that catalog... we worked with a local advertising agency/marketing firm that really wasn’t a catalog marketing firm. That really wasn’t a catalog company or specializing in catalogs. Our success was very limited. Whereas once we went to people who knew did this all the time and understood how to present something in a catalog, then success started to happen. We were trying to fly blind, or rather, we were running things like a retailer. Just put the product out there and people will buy it. But that’s not how this works.
CS: You also mentioned you didn’t have much in the way of call center or fulfillment employees. How many catalog employees do you have now?
FG: Being in the food business, selling food through a catalog is seasonal, typically only at Christmas. Everybody who’s in this building is either working on the catalog, fulfilling the catalog, answering the phones or producing the product that goes into the catalog. Literally almost all of the stores. This is a small catalog business, about 60 people.
CS: Are people working on the catalog at multiple locations?
FG: We’re presenting a product that has to be unique in its nostalgic appearance. For us to slap a box into another box, especially at Christmastime, that’s not going to keep that customer. So we wrap every box that goes out of here during the holiday season, which is a big plus for the customer, but really difficult for us. That puts everybody, whether they’re at this location or another location, usually doing some sort of packaging work that’s done in the facilitation area. Because we’re really not that busy in the stores when it’s not summertime, with the exception of the chocolate stores. Rather the chocolate stores are very busy this time of year, the taffy stores are not.