As one of the top jewelry retailers in Puerto Rico, Marie Helene Morrow, of Reinhold Jewelers, knows that her business is all about bringing jewelry to her clientele while maintaining close ties to the local community. For the past six years, Reinhold has sent its customers a lovingly crafted, self-produced holiday catalog with a Puerto Rican theme. “Although I wasn’t born in Puerto Rico, I’ve lived here most of my adult life and feel that it’s home,” Morrow says. “I love it for everything that it is.”
Until recently, Morrow used a standard catalog produced by an outside company with a cover personalized to her store. However, she felt it wasn’t distinctive enough, so she decided to produce it herself.
“I always look for a topic that has to do with Puerto Rico—something we see every day that we don’t notice due to the hustle and bustle of our lives,” Morrow says. Themes from past years include leaves and flowers of the rainforest, doors and windows of Old San Juan, outdoor marketplaces, recipes, hands of Puerto Rico, and graffiti art. “We really keep [the theme] under wraps,” Morrow explains. “Except for me and the graphic designer, no one knows.” She says this year’s theme won’t be revealed until customers receive it in their mailboxes in time for the holiday season.
Last year’s graffiti-themed book makes it clear how much attention Morrow pays to every detail. The cover (which Morrow says is the most important element of the catalog) feels like corrugated cardboard, and the inside pages are filled with product shots mixed with snaps of Puerto Rican graffiti (taken by Morrow’s daughter) and comments from each featured designer describing his or her feelings about graffiti’s importance (or lack thereof).
Though producing each book is a daunting undertaking that begins in January and doesn’t end until it’s mailed out in November, Morrow keeps doing it not only because she loves it but also because she’s become known for it. The catalog gets written up in the local newspaper every year, and it’s been featured in an advertising magazine. Her fiercely loyal customers collect and display the books in their homes.
At first, it was difficult to tell if the positive buzz generated by the catalogs affected business, or whether the books covered their production costs through increased sales. But Morrow says it’s obvious now that people are purchasing items because of the catalogs.
“There are pieces where people come in with the catalog in hand and say ‘I want that piece,’” Morrow says. “In the beginning it didn’t happen, but last year, yes. I know during the year it brings us sales. I know everybody mentions it. We’re known for the catalog, and people look forward to it.”