This is my plan to send a catalog full of cool internet brands to 50,000 US homes.

Where Did the Idea Come From?

The concept was inspired by Pop-Up Grocer (PUG), which Brett tipped me off to, a 30-day pop-up that bounces from city to city featuring hundreds of small, DTC, food brands.

  1. Selling online is expensive, acquisition costs keep going up and up.
  2. Internet first brands often move to brick and mortar to retail as they exhaust digital channels. Many open their own retail stores (Warby Parker, All Birds etc.) this isn’t within the budget of smaller brands.
  3. Getting shelved in retailers is tough for small brands due to shelving fees, MOQs, insurance requirements and the basic proof that the products will sell through.
  1. It’s an alternative channel to online acquisition.
  2. A catalog allows multiple brands to share the costs of this more expensive medium.
  • Mail Stands Out: Direct mail was once a dominant form of advertising but has taken a backseat to online ads. Now digital devices are crowded while mailboxes are mostly empty. Boomers are nostalgic for the catalog and millennials treat mail as unique and important.
  • Mail is Trustworthy: Print advertising has demonstrated in surveys to be trusted by 82% of readers, compared to 25–65% online.
  • Mail Converts: 30% of respondents to another survey say they looked up a product online after seeing it advertised in print.

Pricing and Business Model

In the beginning I was set on a pay for placement model. I didn’t want to get into revenue sharing or a significant upfront investment of my own… been there, done that.

Cover of the All Sorts sample catalog
A sample page from the catalog featuring Away.
A straight forward email about what’s wrong with my outreach.
  • Big Corporate Advertiser: Ask a big corporate like Amex to cover the cost of the catalog as part of their Shop Small or similar campaign. We’d feature independent small brands who, of course, accept American Express.
  • White Label Catalogue: I pitched a friend at a big retailer on the above advertising partnership, she promptly rejected it. BUT, she had a good idea of working with larger brands to curate a catalogue of independent products that are complementary to their own.
  • Create An Affiliate Product: Another idea that is not my own… Partner up with a magazine or newspaper publisher to print and distribute the catalog. We would be responsible for design, curation and negotiation of revenue share with each product. I brought this idea to Hearst, the publisher who may do distribution, and they couldn’t wrap their heads around it. Mostly because All Sorts is tiny (non-existent) and they are the largest magazine publisher in the world.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store