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Catalogs have a long and colorful history. For more than a century, catalogs brought the world to the mailboxes of Americans everywhere. In the past, you could order an automobile or a whole house from a catalog.
Times change. Today, you are more likely to find a catalog in your email inbox than in your mailbox. The basic idea of the catalog has moved with technology.
Example: Oscar has been running a garden center for years. He expanded by putting up greenhouses and growing annuals and perennials, herbs and vegetables--serving the local retail and wholesale markets. When competition became too stiff, Oscar made a change. Today, he has eliminated the former items and concentrates on unusual plants in the greenhouses. In the fields, he grows many types of hostas and daylilies. His catalogs are online, accessed through his website, and he ships anywhere in the country. He uses social media (Facebook, etc.) to point people to the catalogs.
Example: Mary has an upscale gift shop. She makes jewelry herself--one of a kind pieces that appeal to her regular customers. To expand her reach, Mary decided on two approaches. (1) She invited a select group of artists to consign handmade items in her gift shop. This gave the shop a broader appeal. In addition to the jewelry, she now offers selections of fiber art, paintings, photographs, glass pieces, and woodworking. (2) She established her gift shop on Etsy.com. Viewers far and near can browse through her catalog of items online and place their orders. The catalog is easy to update and maintain.
Catalogs can be useful in many businesses. Products can include women's fashion, gifts, trendy housewares, furniture, unusual plants, cigars, chocolates, coffee, teas, and more. In addition there are catalogs offering courses of instruction in various subjects.
You can catalog your items on your own website or you can use sites like Etsy to offer your goods to a wide audience.
Printed catalogs are expensive to produce and mail. But you can avoid this by using today's social media combined with your own website, or one that reaches a wider audience.