Reprinted from September 1997
Suppliers and manufacturers go out of their way to put out catalogs that will catch the jeweler’s eye and urge them to make a purchase, thus creating business. This is an account of how these things work in reality.
In the morning mail, some years back, we received a lovely catalog that was loose leaf and brimming with color photos of beautiful items. We also received a catalog which was small and square, attractive however, and we looked for a place to put both.
RB was apprehensive. “Martha, we don’t have enough room for boxes, much less, strange sized catalogs.” I defended my decision. “I know RB, but these are especially nice and I’m sure it will pay to keep them.” I tucked them in a drawer under the counter.
A few more days went by and I needed a catalog underneath the new ones, so I tugged and pulled and the big loose-leaf catalog fell out on my toes and hurt like the dickens, so I moved it to the top of a table in the back room. RB wanted to lay out some beads on that table to see how many he’d need and he shoved the catalog and it fought back flopping open and knocking his arrangement to the floor and he swore at the book and brought it and dumped it in the center of my desk. I had a few things to say about his dumping in the middle of my desk and I picked it up and put it under the counter at another spot. How was I to notice that RB had taken in a platter and set it there and this huge catalog covered it up, which really had nothing to do with his forgetting to engrave it until the customer came in looking for it and he couldn’t find it.
Once again, he deposited the book in the middle of my desk. This time I took the catalog in the closet and set it on a shelf above head level. I’ll admit that there was a manila envelope there I set it on and wouldn’t you know it, it was the one RB needed to look at within a few days. He tried pulling the envelope out from under the catalog and holding it with the tips of his fingers, but at the last moment it tipped forward and fell, striking him on his head, drawing a bit of blood and he was very angry. I never knew why RB got angry with inanimate objects.
RB deposited the catalog in the middle of my desk again. I defended keeping it once more. I put it on top of one of the safes.
That evening RB was having problems setting the safe, and wouldn’t you know, something about that catalog kept the safe from setting properly. Who understands wires and so on.
Once again, RB deposited the catalog in the middle of my desk. Somehow, when he flopped it down, a check I had sitting there became entangled in the pages and it was two weeks before I thought to look there for it. By then I had delegated the catalog to a place under a credenza.
Just when I thought I’d found a good place for it, RB decided that the bars for the back door would fit there during the day easier and safer than where he’d been putting them for the last 20 years.
It took a lot of looking and thinking, but finally I decided to put the catalog in the file drawer with some of RB’s crystal books, etc. I could hear him cursing all the way up front when he broke a fingernail trying to get it out so he could get the book he needed.
Once more, I found this catalog deposited in the middle of my desk. I finally decided that I was defending something that didn’t merit defending. If the manufacturer had any brains, they’d have made it standard size and it would have fit the designated area just fine. Sadly, I walked over and deposited it in the trash.
Remembering back about this situation recently, I recalled I’d gotten a little bitty catalog that same day. I think it was seven or eight years ago. I walked over to that drawer and opened it, and there, at the very bottom, was that catalog.
A note to well meaning manufacturers: If you want your catalog kept, and read, and used, keep it standard size. Not every manufacturer out there will have a Martha to try and take up for their catalog once it reaches the jeweler.
When the jeweler looks at a catalog, it is an instant decision as to whether it will be a keeper or not.
As for the big catalog, I can’t even recall the name of the company! Somehow we got by without it all these years.