Be a NEMOA Person
Keep a ’70s Practice Alive
At one point when he made me feel nice and young again, Tim reflected on how he and his wife Joan bought the Clymers of Buck’s County catalog in the late ’70s and the many people they networked with back then who helped give them a kick in the pants. He explained how Bill Knowles of The Stitchery and Potpourri catalogs got printer Foote & Davies to take the Litles’ business even though their catalog was a direct competitor.
As Tim pointed out, it wasn’t always this way, in both the industry as a whole and at NEMOA conferences. In the ’80s, for instance, catalog founders became less involved with NEMOA; conference volunteers became less motivated; generational transitions weren’t always smooth. But it picked up again in the ’90s and ’00s. And that cooperative atmosphere was certainly evident here this week.
Even though the business has changed and many of its constituents have moved on, that same spirit is alive. Tim noted how four of the five words from the original name of the group (New England Mail Order Association) are outdated. With most catalogers now getting well over 50 percent of their orders on the Web, this is no longer the mail order business. Of course, toll-free numbers all but killed the mail order business years ago. What’s more, the conference has been drawing catalogers from across the country for several years now, so it’s hardly confined to New England anymore. In fact, the NEMOA board recently scrapped the five words in favor of the acronym.
In true NEMOA spirit, the NEMOA board put together a last-minute session at the end of the day Thursday, the 22d, for a free-flowing idea exchange on ways to survive the postage increase. Led by Garnet Hill president/CEO Russ Gaitskill, the session lasted about 45 minutes and the ideas were flying left and right. Although few were revolutionary, all of them were, nevertheless, worth serious consideration.