Not such big spenders

 Somebody out there must think we’re big spenders on Christmas at our house. Why else would our mailbox be stuffed with catalogs with every conceivable kind of merchandise?

I feel sorry for the postal carrier who has to deliver this stuff. Last week we got more than 20 catalogs; the mailbox was jammed so tight we could barely get the mail out.

Jenny and I do buy something occasionally from a catalog or online because our relatives are scattered around the country, but we still do most of our shopping in area stores. Despite that, we’re pretty certain we’ve received at least 200 catalogs this season and they’re still coming.

Most we don’t even look through, unless they are from an established retailer we already know. The rest just go in the recycling pile.

We have friends who say they get hardly any catalogs. We think we may be inundated because we subscribe to about a dozen magazines.

Some companies send five or six during the holiday season. They typically have most of the same stuff with a different cover.

I’ve noticed that they begin looking a little more desperate as Christmas nears. A catalog from a place called Figis that sells food products and nuts had the entire cover taken up with big type saying “ORDER as LATE as December 23, 2009 for Christmas delivery!”

L. L. Bean’s latest effort has candy canes and the words, “There’s still time.” And Mrs. Fields Cookies gift catalog says, “It’s not too late!”

As I turn through some of the more off-the-wall catalogs, I wonder about the market for some of this stuff. I don’t know anyone who would buy a woman a sweatshirt that said, “It’s OK to be bottom heavy.” Or a T-shirt that says, “My dad is a hunk.”

Lots of companies offer posters and gifts with motivational sayings. But my favorite was the holiday catalog of something called “Despair, Inc.” The company’s slogan is “Motivational products don’t work. But our demotivational products don’t work even better.”

Inside are posters, each with a headline and a saying. For instance, one features a photograph of a handshake and the words, “Consulting: If you not part of the solution, there’s real money to be made in prolonging the problem.” Another reads: “Risks: If you never try anything new, you’ll miss out on many of life’s great disappointments.”

We get a lot of catalogs featuring food products, especially chocolate. I think someone must have sold them data about my waist size. That’s target marketing.

A company from Wisconsin that sells cheese and summer-sausage sampler boxes (most of which cost less than $25) offered “No payments until February.” And then it offered to split the cost into three monthly payments. That’s a long time to pay for a hunk of cheese.

Maybe they don’t think we’re such big spenders after all.


T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at