AND NOT A SALESCLERK WAS STIRRING…

Armchair shopping with your TV

In this jolly season, snaring a parking place at Valley View is comparable to bagging the Holy Grail. Accordingly, a shopping option that doesn’t involve a mall run is always welcome. Herein are glad tidings for would-be armchair shoppers: the boob tube shopping boom has arrived. Now you can order everything from negligees to toaster ovens without touching that dial.

Home Shopping Network began the era of shop-at-home video in July 1985. Since its debut, the cable option’s “all commercial” format, which shows and describes merchandise and gives a toll-free number for ordering, has been phenomenally successful with net sales last fiscal year exceeding $160 million.

In October, Channel 27 began airing this area’s first network shopping show, the new Consolidated Stores production. “Shopping Line,” shown weekdays from 10a.m. until 1 p.m., offers close-out priced jewelry, small appliances, and other hidden-label gift items. Channel 27 president John McKay admits the show has a certain demographic profile in mind-it’s aimed at the coffee-sipping housewife who might buy a ceramic figurine or fireplace screen “on impulse”-but “Shopping Line’s” New Jersey producers hope the show, which is broadcast eighteen hours a day and to date airs in five U.S. cities, will net $10,000 an hour in sales in Dallas. Channel 27 will reap a share of the profits if the show is successful.

Another new video shopping option, for those in the tradition of giving their beloved a holiday nightie, comes from the new, Garland-based Fashion Video Catalog Company. Company president Peter Granoff says his first release, a slick, seventeen-minute, MTV-style lingerie catalogue, is the first rentable “fashion entertainment” catalogue.

Titled “Dress to Thrill,” the catalogue has a sultry narrator who advises viewers to “prepare for a sophisticated seduction” when ordering certain “lace-covered fantasies.” Kim Dawson models flounce through rolling clouds of smoke while a twenty-four-hour toll-free number, the price of each item, and the sizes available are shown on the screen. Customers use a major credit card to make a satisfaction-guaranteed order for an “essential feathered boa,” a mask of silver with sequins, or a variety of women’s lingerie and men’s loungewear. The catalogue is available for rental from about 30 Dallas video stores and 1,400 stores nationwide.

The traditional JCPenney’s book isn’t on the endangered species list yet, but fashion video catalogues and shopping shows may eventually replace the bulky direct-mail tomes. Murjani International recently produced a video catalogue for Coca-Cola Clothes to be sent to retailers, and many other apparel manufacturers have followed suit. Meanwhile, Gran-offs “Dress to Thrill” may make a killing. For a shining moment that’s bound to be brief, it remains unique, the only rentable video catalogue.

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