A Chat With March’s Profile, Martin Smith, CEO of MindWare
CS: Was there any reduction to catalog circulation?
MS: Yes there was. We were cautious in our circulation in ’07.
CS: By what percentage was the circulation cut?
MS: It was in the 5 percent to 10 percent range.
CS: What was one of your biggest mistakes in your years in the catalog business? How did you or the company recover from the mistake?
MS: I don’t think I want to get into the specifics of the product category, but we did test a product category in ’05 which we had a lot of hopes for. But the customer didn’t gravitate towards those pages. We chalk it up as a learning experience, but certainly not something we want to repeat unless we can really think of a much better way of going down that particular path. It was a related product area, but not exactly in the MindWare center of gravity.
That was a learning experience. We learned that you can’t just stack on a related product category and necessarily find customer acceptance for it. We did have at the time some overstock issues related to that. We bought too heavily into those product categories, into the items that were in that product category, and it took us some time and some write-downs to clear the inventory as a result of that experiment.
CS: Was this product category within the main book? Was it a whole spin-off book?
MS: It was a section within the main book.
CS: What factors help MindWare set itself apart from its competition?
MS: Education. I think that’s really it. I think we’re true to our mission, and maybe linking into what I said about the test that didn’t work in ’05. I think we’re clearly in toys and games with an educational benefit. That sets us apart. And maybe that’s the area we’ll grow in, rather than becoming a more diverse offer. We’re focused from a business-model point of view. We intend to stay focused.