Independent Retailers and Vendors Partner to Drive Floor Traffic

Twenty-three independent specialty outdoor retailers are reaching customers this season with a catalog equal to those of their much larger competitors.
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Twenty-three independent specialty outdoor retailers are reaching customers this season with a catalog equal to those of their much larger competitors. By participating in Catalyst Communication's direct mail marketing program, they've mailed over 300,000 copies of the Spring Outdoor Guide this month to their existing customers and prospective outdoor enthusiasts. With brilliant photography, informative product descriptions, useful tips, and valuable coupons, the Outdoor Guides will inspire and encourage customers to visit and shop these local outdoor retailers and their featured brands.

The Outdoor Guide reaches several new markets this year, including, Missoula, MT, Clearwater, FL, Fort Collins and Durango, CO, Ames, IA, and La Crosse, WI. Among over 30 brands appearing in the Outdoor Guide, several are showcased for the first time, including Columbia, Native, Liquid Logic and Current Kayaks, and Wenona Canoes. In all, the Outdoor Guide will tempt customers with an array of products, including climbing, camping, footwear, apparel, car racks, canoes and kayaks, cycling, and accessories.

Mailed each spring and fall, the Outdoor Guide is the result of a profitable partnership among specialty retailers and their major outdoor brands. Vendors help pay in the cost to print and mail the Outdoor Guides. Catalyst leverages the economies of scale in design, list work, printing and mailing to make world-class marketing affordable to locally-based retailers.

Unlike most traditional catalogs, the Catalyst Outdoor Guide succeeds by building brand recognition and loyalty for both vendors and retailers. Each vendor receives a full page, or more, to promote its brand message and featured products. Each retailer chooses the brand pages the retailer wants to feature and provides custom content about the store to tell customers why it is the best place to shop. Beyond focus on products, customers are educated to appreciate the value of high-end products and the expertise their local specialty retailer provides.

“We wanted something that gets our customer's attention, makes us look great and is affordable,”,says Joe Butler, Jr., owner of Black Creek Outfitters and regular Outdoor Guide participant. “Catalyst makes it very easy. They coordinate the support of our vendors, and do everything from design to mailing. We simply provide the information to customize the Guide so it reflects us. It saves us time and money, and we look like heroes.”

Catalyst's “magalog” format has consistently won top awards for the Outdoor Guide among national catalogers. The Spring 2006 Outdoor Guide earned a gold medal from among over 200 entrants at the prestigious Annual Conference for Catalog & Multi-Channel Merchants. The Silver Award went to BMW. Winners in other categories included Patagonia, LL Bean and Orvis.

The Outdoor Guide is produced by Catalyst Communication, of Boulder CO. Catalyst ( is a 14-person, 22 year-old marketing firm dedicated to helping locally-based specialty outdoor and cycling retailers work with their vendors to produce world-class direct marketing. The Outdoor Guide is printed in the USA on 30% post-consumer waste paper and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, promoting responsible management of the world's forests.