Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Voices from the Past: Abbey & Imbrie's Catalog (1918)

The following blurb appeared in the Business Digest for January 1918, and deals with a question that I've wondered about for some time. I noticed that in the middle 1910s, catalogs from tackle firms began to take on a more "educational" tone. Well, thanks to the following blurb, we have an answer. It came from an article called "Catalogs and Booklets."

It has often been said, writes John Allen Murphy in a recent issue of Printers’ Ink, that unless a merchant is thoroughly familiar with a line, and unless he personally likes it, he will not make a big success in handling it. This is a fact, the writer thinks, which should be taken into consideration by manufacturers who are offering their goods to dealers as side-lines. “Very often a merchant has no real interest in his side-lines. He gives them space, thinking they will sell themselves, but does not go much further than that. Not knowing the goods, he is not able to talk them intelligently. Hence he lets them take potluck.”

Fishing tackle, Mr. Murphy points out, furnishes an apt illustration. The regular place to sell it is in sporting goods stores, but it is also handled in hardware, drug, department, general and variety stores. In thousands of cases it is dealt in merely as a side-line.

It happens that fishing tackle is a very technical product. In hooks, alone, there are over 1600 shapes. Many men, both anglers and manufacturers, give it a lifetime's study and still do not pretend to be acquainted with all its lore. If the dealer is not himself a disciple of Isaak Walton, it is a hard job for him to sell fishing tackle intelligently.

The old New York fishing tackle house of Abbey & Imbrie are overcoming the problem thus offered by getting a strong text-book appeal into their catalog, and the success of the venture has convinced them that the right sort of text-book material is the best kind of sales ammunition.

The first ten or twelve pages of the Abbey & Imbrie catalog is a text-book pure and simple. It discusses fishing and the paraphernalia of fishing in a manner that would delight old Ike himself. It intimately treats all phases of the subject, and so exhaustively that it would be hard for a person to read the matter without gaining a Pretty good theoretical knowledge of fishing. The prospective angler, by reading this book, can buy his tackle with some assurance that he knows what he wants. The dealer, who has this book, can serve his customers more Intelligently.

-- Dr. Todd

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