You would think with the Internet going full throttle, the day of snail mail merchandise catalogs would be numbered. Not! Our Contributing Editor, Ron Carmean, is a catalog junkie. In fact, there’s still plenty of junk, and good stuff, you can order from a catalog…here’s Ron with his catalog shopping list…
How many Christmas catalogs have you received? I have gotten 40. I use many of them to find gift ideas for family and friends. I know more catalogs will be coming. But I still will not come close to the total some people will accumulate. I think my pile of catalogs grows higher every year. Yours too?
Occasionally, I wonder why am I the recipient of so many “wish books,” as they were called when I was a child. I have noticed three primary sources of my good fortune. First, if I buy something from a department store, I will get Christmas catalogs from them forever. Have you gotten your catalogs from: Macy’s, Sears, Penney’s, Kohl’s, Target, Talbot’s, Boscov’s, etc. Specialty stores also furnish catalogs describing their products (e.g., Harry and David, Pottery Barn, Ten Thousand Villages, Foot Locker). I remember walking by stores like these in the mall. Did I buy something? Did my wife? I cannot remember. But I have their catalogs to prove our paths crossed.
My taste is often limited. There are days I believe my personal shopping extends no further than L. L. Bean. This leads me to a second idea contributing to my catalog accumulation. I call it “The Bean Chain”: buy something from a certain type of store and their competitors will follow the money trail to you. In my case, it looks like this: L. L. Bean…Eddie Bauer…Lands’ End…Duluth Trading…Woolrich…Orvis…Filson. One of these companies has sent me 5 catalogs. I think I bought a shirt from them once.
My mail box really groans because of contributions from a third source: the “Out Of The Blue” product catalogs (i.e., OOTB). For a small price, they will furnish me with: English Muffins, Fruit of the Month, Bread of the Month, Sausages and Cheeses of the Month, sporting goods (when was the last time I needed a goalie mask?), bookstores (fewer of them than in past years, I know), CDs and DVDs, etc. Thanks to the presence of Jake (our Black Lab), dog product catalogs find our home before Christmas. I hide them from him. He is already jealous of our neighbors’ dogs: Riley, Bud, Storm, Logan, Thor, Mr. Ping. I have 5 catalogs selling the wares of the UK/PBS this year –and I do not even watch Downton Abbey. Don’t hate me. It’s probably scheduled against a reality show. Maybe “Bat Herders from Debuque.” Who could resist such excitement?
This year, two OOTB catalogs got my attention immediately. The first was: “Catalog Favorites: A Showcase of Catalog Best-sellers.” It offered mugs, night shirts, inexpensive jewelry, anything with a sports team logo on it, but the specialty was T-shirts. Selections appeared often within the catalog, and included those fit for a Man Cave: “My Indian Name Is: Runs with Beer” –is anyone sober not offended by that? Then there’s a favorite of Jake’s: “Poop happens…just pick it up and move on”, and a sure winner for all ages “Nothing makes me more productive than the last minute.”
But the ultimate OOTB catalog again this year came from Hammacher Schlemmer. It claims to be giving you “America’s Longest Running Catalog” which is “Offering the Best, the Only, and the Unexpected for 165 years.” I cannot speak to the question of its longevity, but strange as that description sounds, the catalog’s contents back up their claims. For example, where else can you find:
1) The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher, that also forms the snowballs for you (sure to be used in schoolyards coast-to-coast);
2) The Talking Plush Yoda, 24″ tall, with push buttons that produce words like: “Do or do not; there is no try;”
3) The Spinning Spaghetti Fork, you will never have to load your pasta fork again;
4) The 15′ Animated Inflatable Rudolph, Santa and you can be guided home by it coming home from office parties;
5) The Golf Ball Locating Glasses, they look like blue tinted sun glasses and they help to…you guessed it;
6) The Remote Controlled Rolling Beverage Cooler: barrel-shaped and rolling on 4 wheels, it delivers your drink of choice at your command;
7) and, last, but costing the most, is = The 1959 Corvette Billiards Game: a regulation four and a half foot by nine foot pool table which is placed atop the car’s actual body and sells for a mere $25,000.
The person on your Christmas gift list who “has everything” does not have one of everything listed above. You can be certain of that.
You may ask: why is this article appearing now, with so much time remaining until Christmas? More catalogs are sure to arrive. True, but I have shopping to do. The sooner I start acquiring gifts like these, the sooner my credit cards are maxed out. Only at that time will my giving be complete. Then, it will be time for me to sit back and receive. It will, won’t it?