Will you change your paper type to counteract the postage increase?
Bush: We recently did the last printing on 33-lb. Yes, we’re lowering our basis weight for the catalog just to counteract the postage increase. We tested eight different kinds of SCA and are evaluating results of that test now to see which mills will be selected for catalogs in the next printing in October.
The amazing thing about the SCA grades is that they’re all really good and quite comparable. We tested [lighter-weight paper], and we got usable product from every sheet we tested. That was extremely encouraging for us, and it goes to show that the industry is moving forward and concentrating on lighter-weight paper.
CS: Have you used other types of paper before? If so, why didn’t they work out?
Bush: The monthly flyer used to be on a 28-lb sheet, but we downgraded it last year to a 26-lb sheet. Again, this was a postage and cost consideration. That’s probably as light as we’ll go. We tried a 25-lb, but the opacity wasn’t satisfactory for us. We haven’t used lightweight coated at all this year because the quality of the SCA grades has improved so much.
Of course, the entire paper market is in the dumper right now, and we’re enjoying it with mixed emotions, because when it turns, it’ll turn big time.
CS: How big a part does paper play in your budget considerations?
Bush: It’s about half of what our print budget is.
CS: How much of an impact do you think paper has on your brand?
Bush: In our case it’s important. We’re strictly business-to-business; we have no retail stores. If we’re selling a $600 desk, we have to represent it as closely to actual as possible. If the customer doesn’t like it, we’re getting it back and paying freight both ways.