The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 13, 1996 · Page 51
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 51

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, October 13, 1996
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Page 51
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SUNDAY OCTOBER 13, 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL Money JANE BRYANT QUINN / E2 MANAGEMENT / E3 DISNEY'S WORLD / E4 E BRIEFLY KFRM has new owner, focus on agriculture CLAY CENTER — KFRM 550- AM has changed its programming to focus on agriculture. KFRM recently was purchased by Clay Center-based Taylor Communication, which owns KCLY-FM, a country and rock music station in Clay Center. KFRM broadcasts crop market prices, weather updates and agriculture news. Gadzooks opens this week with teen clothes Gadzooks, a Dallas-based clothing store chain, is opening a store Thursday at Central Mall. Gadzooks targets teen-agers and has 163 stores in 23 states. Gadzooks 1,900-square-foot store will have neon lighting, television monitors featuring popular music videos and the company's signature Volkswagen Beetle. Financial Network moves its office Financial Network Investment Corp. has moved its Salina office to 1113 Faith. Pam Schneider manages the office. The company offers insurance and investments in mutual funds and stocks. The broker office formerly was at Security Savings Bank at SCHNEIDER 317 S. Santa Fe. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 825-8836. General Air, BMK Plumbing merge As the result of a merger between BMK Plumbing, 525 Russell, and General Air Conditioning and Electrical Co, 224 S. Fourth, BMK's owner Bob Dolan has been named DOLAN manager of General Air's plumbing division. The two companies merged Oct. 8. Aaron Starmer, BMK's only employee, also joined General Air. PERSONALS Informatics hires 3 new employees Informatics Corp., 2141 Centennial, has added three employees to its staff. The company provides a variety of computer services, including networking, training and home page design. It also sells and repairs personal computers. James Adams will help customers with Internet access and how to design web pages. Brad Gantenbein is a PC technician. Lori Brax is a customer service representative. Rayas joins marketing at Kennedy and Coe Cheri Rayas has joined the Salina office of Kennedy and Coe, United Building, as a sales and marketing representative for the Salina, Topeka and Concordia areas. Rayas previously worked as o A VAC a sales manager HAYAb an( j researc h consultant for Eagle Broadcasting. Toland named president of KPL TOPEKA — Rick Toland, a Salina native, has been named president of Kansas Power and Light Co. Toland replaces Fred Bryan, who retires effective Nov. 1. Toland has been with KPL for 26 years and most recently served as executive director of KPL Distribution Operations. Renfro honored for 20 years at Waddell & Reed An open house is planned Thursday to honor Tpni Renfro's 20 years of service at Waddell & Reed. The open house is from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Waddell & Reed, 213 S. Santa Fe. From Staff Reports The Carefull Cons* By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG The Associated Press It's a sign that summer's gone and Christmas is on the way: Catalogs are spilling out of mailboxes. Consumers may not detect anything different - mail-order merchants start bombarding customers in early fall - but more catalogs travel the mail now, a sign the industry is recovering from problems of the past two years. In 1995, catalog companies were hit by a double whammy: an increase in postal rates and a surge in paper prices. Merchants mailed fewer catalogs and made fewer sales. The year before, merchants knew their costs were going to rise so they mailed a deluge of catalogs, thinking it would bring in more business. It didn't. "It's been tough on the industry," said Jeff Johnson, director of creative services at Rivertown Trading Co., whose catalogs include Signals, Wireless and Seasons. But Johnson optimistically views the coming season, as do other catalog retailers and analysts who follow the industry. "We're feeling pretty good about this fall because paper has come down," he said. Debra O'Shea, an analyst at Barrington Research Associates Inc. in Chicago, said of the industry, "My gut feeling is that it's doing better than it has in a couple of years. A lot of the stocks have jumped tremendously this year." Among the big companies expected to do well during Christmas are Williams Sonoma, the cookware and home furnishings retailer, and apparel stalwart Lands' End. But Spiegel and the J.C. Penney catalog are may have a tougher time. In recent years catalog retailers have faced many of the same issues confronting other merchants: Consumer caution when the economy has been weak, and women's unhap- piness with clothing styles This Christmas season, high consumer debt levels have aroused concern. Some mail-order companies have their own individual problems. Although Penney's stores are showing signs of rebounding from a slump, the catalog operation hasn't turned around, said Julie Carlson, a Penney spokeswoman. The company dealt with paper inflation by shaving an eighth- inch off the dimensions of its catalogs and switching to a different grade. Now that prices have stabilized, Penney is sending out new holiday catalogs with expanded offerings. . Spiegel, in reporting a 1995 loss of nearly $9.5 million, said it was hit by paper price increases exceeding 50 percent and a 14 percent increase in postal rates. Fallout from the higher costs continued into this year - Spiegel lost $17.6 million and said it still suffered the effects of the decline in catalog distribution last year. But Spiegel, known for its giant semi-annual catalog and Eddie Bauer stores and catalog, also has fundamental merchandising problems. •"For the general merchandise catalog, the question is, do you need to specialize?" O'Shea said, "Spiegel is what the Sears catalog used to be ... is that what the customer wants?" Sears closed its big catalog operation three years ago because it was losing money. Wall Street isn't happy with Spiegel's prospects. The company's stock traded around $7 a share early in 1996, recovered then fell back to its lows. But Spiegel is trying to boost sales. Matt Koellner, an analyst with Olde Discount Corp. in Detroit, said the catalog is offering more national brands the same strategy that helped Sears turn its stores around. Even strong companies are not immune from problems. Williams Sonoma has been doing phenomenally well, O'Shea said, but "they've been unable to handle the sales volume they did get." The past two Christmas seasons, the company stopped shipping orders days earlier than planned because it couldn't get the merchandise out in time, she said. The company had promised Christmas delivery on orders called in as late as Dec. 22. The company's 1995 earnings fell 87 percent to $2.5 million although sales rose 22 percent. Williams Sonoma has tried to fix the problems by improving efficiency at a Memphis, Tenn. warehouse and creating a new center to process customer orders more quickly. "I think they'll be up to the task," said Dave Ricci, an analyst with William Blair & Co. in Chicago. Wall Street also is optimistic. Williams Sonoma's stock price is now in the $28- a-share range, double its low reached earlier this year. Other catalog retailers are refining merchandise and customer service as they seek sales improvements. Over the past year, Lands' End has been revamping its clothes - even staples like turtlenecks have been changed. "They've freshened the product line and made progress in improving the quality of their product," Ricci said. It's unclear whether many apparel catalogs will be able to overcome the same doldrums clothing stores suffered. But O'Shea, the Barrington analyst, said Lands' End should benefit from the continuing shift toward casual wear. Customer service may not be obvious to catalog customers, but mail-order companies are finding ways to make shopping easier. A growing number of companies, recognizing most people Christmas-shop at the last minute, are offering two-day or overnight shipping that give customers a Dec. 22 ordering deadline. Penney is offering late shipping for the first time this year, and putting a greater emphasis on gift wrapping, spokeswoman Carlson said. Some catalogs are giving customers the option of deferred billing. Tweeds, the women's clothing catalog, is offering shoppers in its fall catalog the chance to delay payments until January. Orvis, the Vermont-based clothing and country gift catalog, has been targeting catalogs to specific customers. So it has more than just one holiday catalog. "Your holiday book may be skewed to primarily gifts, and I may get one that's primarily men's clothing," said Stephen Diehl, an Orvis spokesman. Carefully matching customers and catalogs is more than just a service strategy, Diehl said. It has also helped Orvis cope with paper and postage costs. "The more we can target, the less waste there is for us and for the customer," he said. Photo illustration by WYATT COUNTS / The Associated Press What some catalog retailers are doing to be more consumer-friendly this holiday season LANDS' END: Packing jingle bells with gift boxes, trying to get customers in the Christmas mood as they unpack the merchandise. The October catalog includes a guide to merchandise in November and December, , WILLIAMS SONOMA: Increasing the amount of food offerings, Time-pressed customers are turning more toward mail-order foods for entertaining, in addition to those who give food as gifts. IENOX: Offers deterred billing for its figurines, many of which cost $100 or more. Customers' credit cards will be billed in up to five installments. J,q, PENNEY: Offering ||pt-minyte shipping fQrpropJ'astinstors. Customers <?an order as late as Dec. 22 and get delivery In time for Christmas. ______ BRAINSTORM^? The game end p$$§ catalog is giving discounts up to 20 percent to customers who ge,t their orders in by November 27. ,-# ' Christmas catalog includes a section explaining shipping and customer services. Also includes a detailed index to help shoppers navigate 296-page catalog. CRATE |i BARREL; ' • • , Catalog Ifiiydjil.ft guide tint If 18, qMP&WWf toow how lite they can order for holiday delivery, with dates for Hanukkah and Christmas. SUGGESTIONS? CALL MARY JO PROCHAZKA, MONEY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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