Return To Sender

The amount of catalogs we get delivered to the house is insulting. It almost hurts me to think about it too much. Other than being a such an enormous waste of trees, many of the catalogs advertise things Steph and I would simply never even consider buying in a million years. It’s almost like the AirMall, except the shit isn’t even funny inside. At least the AirMall is good for a laugh.

The other day, we got TWO of the exact same catalog in the mail. It was from Ballard Designs, a company I can say with 100% confidence that we have never bought anything from and have never even heard of, for that matter. The best part – they had two different covers. Everything else was exactly the same. What did the covers look like? The one that was addressed to me had a bunch of home office stuff and was decidedly male. The one addressed to Steph was of a Victorian-looking foyer, with grand staircase and a headline that said something along the lines of “Design Your Dream!” Sexism at its quiet finest.

Of course, some other retail shop sold our name to Ballard. What can you do about that? Not much. Doing business over-the-counter or online these days pretty much opts you in automatically to all this crap. I kid you not, I think we get 2-3 of these things everyday. I’ve been considering keeping a month’s work, then making a big stack and taking a picture to post here, but I don’t have time for it, plus it would probably just make me sick.

Luckily, you do have an option. Catalog Choice is a website where you can sign up and go through a fairly exhaustive list of all these marketing nazi’s and opt-out of their mailings. Catalog Choice apparantly takes care of the notifications to the publishers. Nice! I signed up about a year ago and did see a noticable slowdown, but I think I need to go back and update my list.

I’d be curious to know what % of total retail spend these days comes from catalogs? I see them as very very old-school, much like phone books, yellow pages or newspaper and TV advertising. It’s not very targeted, clearly, because nearly 100% of the ones I get go right to recycling. Do you still order stuff from mail catalogs?