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Blair looks to trade up with larger, upscale catalog

Looking to attract a new baby boomer customer, along with its traditionally older ones, Blair has mailed an expanded 180-page catalog in which half of the merchandise is more upscale or trendy.

The merchandise repositioning has been gradually taking place over the last few years, said Patrick Kennedy, vice president, Blair Home, because, "We saw a lot of strength to this."

Price points have also broadened, he said, and include high-count sheets and bedding with embroidery detail. Bedspreads range from $20 to $200.

"It's really broad," said Kennedy. Blair has more of a "JCPenney strategy," segmenting its products into good, better, and best, he added.

"We stretched the price points a little — they're a little higher than usual," Kennedy said. "The customer is always looking for something new. We wanted to give them an expanded assortment."

Linda Phillips, bedding product manager, said, "Baby boomers want more luxury than older customers, so we're looking to capture that audience."

In the new catalog, sheets include 400 count cotton sateen, retailing for $89.99 for a queen-sized set.

Country looks also do well for the company, said Phillips. Whimsical looks count for about a fifth of the merchandise, and an exclusive whimsical quilt called Topsy Turtles has been hot. Another 20 percent of the products are more traditional.

Compared to its traditional 100-page book, the 180-page spring catalog gives customers more depth in bedding, window, and furniture accessories, said Kennedy. The new catalog is also perfect bound, instead of saddle stitched.

Though Blair will continue with its 100-page catalog as well, another 180-page book is planned for the fall. Blair drops its home book six times a year, Kennedy said.

The company's Internet business also "continues to surprise us," with double-digit growth every year since its launch four years ago, Kennedy said.

The company closed one of its outlet stores because it can move many clearance items online, said Kennedy. It also recently launched an informational guide to window fashions to help customers measure and choose products.

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