Catalogers of the Year
It’s that museum connection that Eichinger credits for the success of her catalog. And she credits Museum Tour’s usual 4.4 percent response rate to both the credibility that comes with being associated with institutions of learning and the higher level of merchandising it has allowed her to pursue.
“I’ve seen other catalogers who merchandise according to the mass market, what’s going to be the very biggest seller. We don’t use that method. We merchandise by asking people what will educate them the best,” says Eichinger.
Taking that concept to its fullest extent, Eichinger admits she’ll include in a catalog an item she knows won’t be a best-seller but that might round out a person’s education. Museum Tour doesn’t simply provide products for sale, she notes, but delivers an opportunity to achieve a more holistic and balanced education. In an effort to achieve that goal, the catalog has added more language arts and history items to what initially had been primarily a science- and math-based offering.
One of the reasons she’s likely able to include these items is the unique way products make it to the catalog pages. Vendors buy space in the catalog and make 75 percent of retail on each sale. While individual museums offer merchandise in the catalog from time to time, most products come from traditional vendors, says Eichinger.
Each product pitched by a vendor is screened by Eichinger and her staff, which includes former teachers, for both quality and relevance to the catalog’s theme.
Eichinger takes her layout and design cues from the museum atmosphere she hopes to evoke. Each spread is billed as either an individual museum or exhibit hall. Products are grouped together, for instance, based on whether they illustrate the principles of electricity, develop language skills or teach history. Browsing the catalog is like taking a tour through a museum, with similar products grouped together and described in the same way you’d find exhibits in a museum. Eichinger also uses creative to develop the relationship between parent and child. The catalog features what Eichinger calls “side-by-side products” — grown-up versions of many popular children’s products. The idea, she notes, is to provide items for adults so they can become an inspiration to their children and participate in lifelong learning. The most recent catalog, for instance, pictures an adult using a full-sized pottery wheel alongside a smaller-scale children’s version.