A Chat with June’s Profile, Justus Bauschinger, president/owner of Lilliput Motor Co. & Deutsche Optik
Catalog Success: Where are your companies headquartered?
Justus Bauschinger: We’re out here in the boondocks of Nevada. Northern Nevada — about 90 miles southeast of Reno. Yerington, Nevada. On Main Street.
CS: What are the customer demographics for both catalogs?
JB: They’re actually remarkably similar. I’d say 45-plus [years of age], well-to-do. On the Lilliput side, committed to really fine kinds of models and antique toys, or reproductions thereof. And on the Deutsche Optik side, in fact, I never knew until I took over the company from Mike Rifkin that there were so many optical freaks out there. Or enthusiasts, I’m sorry. I mean people that just, you know, love to get big, weird hunks of glass and and go out in the field and use them.
CS: Is it primarily male buyers?
CS: When were both catalog’s established?
JB: Lilliput almost 20 years old. We started in a little office on Sutter Street in San Francisco. We started the company with a two-column, six-inch ad in the then relatively new New York Times, Western edition. And our first catalog was a bifold piece of paper with a couple of drawings on it.
CS: And for Deutsche Optik?
JB: Well, Mike Rifkin started that in San Diego and I guess that company’s close to the same age. I don’t remember exactly how old it is — maybe 16-years-old, 17-years-old. Out of San Diego. He started it buying a container of surplus binoculars. They came from East Germany when that whole thing ended. That was in ’89; I guess when the reunification happened. Or the wall came down. Or whatever. And they were Zeiss glasses that the Nazi army used, and they were like a seven by 40 glass, which is still today considered one of the best binoculars ever made. So he started with a little drawing also. It’s very funny actually to look at his earliest catalogs and look at mine.