A Chat With April's Profile, Terry Powers, founder/president, ComputerGear
Catalog Success: Where's your company headquartered?
Terry Powers: ComputerGear is out of Redmond, Washington.
CS: When was the company established? Were catalogs mailed right away?
TP: It was founded in 1993. At that time, computers were starting to come into the workforce, and they were not very friendly. They were ugly, too. It was basically started on a dare. Someone said, “Why don't you make computers more friendly?” This whole process of having a computer on your desktop be more friendly. I saw that there wasn't really any products out there to decorate your desk or make it more fun, so I pretty much took someone up on a dare and did it.
We first started designing, manufacturing and selling a preprint line of T-shirts and gift items to other catalogers. We were on the wholesale side of it as a vendor and a supplier. We actually thought of the idea of putting like … registering your softwear (sic), with the little insert card inside the box of softwear (sic). We thought of people registering their softwear (sic), W-E-A-R. The little postcard was the hangtag that you see on clothing, whether it was in stores or catalogs, because we did sell and continue to sell to quite a few science and tech museums, and such. You had this little hangtag that people would send back to register their softwear (sic).
Eventually, people started writing us notes on them and sending letters asking us to put out more and more and more products. So in 1995 we mailed our first 16-page, digest-size catalog, featuring not only the T-shirt, but more of the gift items as well. So we started as a wholesaler and migrated to a business-to-consumer catalog company.
CS: What are the customer demographics at ComputerGear?
TP: It's more than just the catalog shopper. We do continue to sell to computer stores, museum stores, book stores on the wholesale side. Our base customers are technical professionals — mostly guys and those who buy gifts for them. I would say aged 40-plus.