A Synergistic Approach
In July 1974, magazine executives ran a hot air balloon ride promotion for National Farm Woman’s Month. To coincide with the event, Reiman had T-shirts made that read “Look Up to Farm Wives.”
“The shirts were a big hit,” recalls Kaiser. “And that was the turning point, when the company recognized an opportunity for more merchandise sales and a possible solo catalog.”
Reiman founded the Country Store mail-order division in 1975. Eventually, the merchandising business took on a life of its own and was spun off into a stand-alone catalog.
Catalogs & Magazines: a Close Fit
At its founding, the Country Store was a way “to reach out to our rural subscribers with a market as near as your mailbox — and that was our slogan; it was a great fit,” says Kaiser. There remains a close working relationship between the catalog and the magazines Reiman publishes today, even though the business has grown and changed.
One major change came in 1986 when Farm Wife News became Country Woman magazine. Kaiser recalls, “We changed the name in response to a decline in the number of ranches and farms, and in an effort to open our readership to more subscribers beyond a purely farm base. It certainly was a big move and a bit of a risk, because we had built loyalty with our readers. But I think it paid off.”
Today, the definition of a country woman has changed a bit from the original subscribers. “More work off the farm today. But some [readers] are new to rural living, having left big cities and towns for a quieter life,” Kaiser adds.
Editorial still comes from the readers; their recipes and crafts drive the magazines, which now include 11 titles such as Taste of Home and Light & Tasty. And some of the content ends up sparking new catalog merchandising ideas. “There is ongoing dialogue between the kitchen people, the editorial side and the catalog,” Kaiser says. “We watch what they’re selling, and see if it’s something we should be covering in the editorial. We also continue to have a page that’s promotional product copy in the magazines, called the Country Store, specifically for the sale of catalog products. The magazine is used as a place to test products — especially food products in Taste of Home or Light & Tasty.”