Case Study: Tender Heart Treasures
While most of the products are designed in-house, they generally are produced to the company’s specifications in overseas locations, such as China. Tender Heart Treasures is fortunate to have established good relationships and credibility with its manufacturers, says Watanabe-Gerdes. “Due to the competitive nature of the market, we’ve found that being a domestic importer works to our advantage,” she explains. It helps the company keep its costs in check, and consequently, its prices low.
Olsen says, “We try to design with price in mind, knowing our customers appreciate a great value. Our buyers work closely with the design team to keep production costs in line with our merchandise pricing strategy.”
Watanabe-Gerdes believes the catalog has continued to grow steadily and profitably, “due to our ability to design and source our own concepts and offer them at highly affordable prices. Our own unique designs add value to the products.”
DeGraeve adds, “Our customers vote with their dollars each time we produce a new line. It’s fun to watch [this process] and reorder their favorites.”
Two Catalogs for Two Audiences
When Tender Heart Treasures began its second catalog title, A Special Place, five years ago the goal was to fill product needs for an emerging niche of its customer base. “We had touched on different decors in our main book, and the Victorian products seemed to have a strong enough niche to warrant their own catalog,” Watanabe-Gerdes explains.
“This [niche] is where a lot of our growth had been,” Watanabe-Gerdes continues. “We figured the most natural way to capitalize on this would be a spin-off.”
A Special Place represents a softer more romantic side to the company’s home decor business as opposed to what Watanabe-Gerdes refers to as “our more primitive country line of Tender Heart Treasures.”
Between the two catalog titles, the company now mails about 17 million books annually.