Catalog veterans know that getting a product to hundreds of thousands of targeted customers in a high-quality catalog is an extremely expensive proposition. That's why five such individuals, with more than 75 years' combined catalog experience, have come together to create the Good Catalog Co., a Portland, Oreg., start-up whose mandate is to save merchants money through economies of scale and the sharing of catalog expenses. President Barbara Todd (who grew her Orchids Only! catalog into the largest cut-flower catalog in the United States before selling it, in 1989) handpicked her team from successful operations like the Sharper Image, Williams Sonoma, Smith & Hawken, and Eddie Bauer, and with less than $100,000 launched the business last April. The group selects an eclectic mix of products from merchants all over the country for its 32-page catalog and handles photography, design, printing, mailing, order processing, and bad-debt absorption, for rates ranging from $2,490 (for one-sixth of a page) to $12,220 (for a full page). Merchants establish the prices, decide how much space is desired in the catalog, ship the items, and receive all sales dollars minus the Good Catalog Co.'s 12% commission. The first catalog goes out to 300,000 known mail-order buyers. A second issue is due later this year, and from 12 to 18 issues will be mailed in 1993. Todd says first-year revenues "should exceed $2 million."

-- Alessandra Bianchi