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Boo Hoo!

The Catalogue That Was Martha Is Giving Up the Ghost

By Jura Koncius
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2004; Page H01

Here's a scary thought for Martha devotees: The wickedly inventive Halloween accessories from the Martha Stewart Catalog for Living are about to disappear. No more make-your-own pretzel fingers kits (dried rosemary for knuckle hair). No more menacing ravens, a catalogue exclusive handmade with real bird feathers. No more strawberry-flavored Gummy fangs or kits to make bat-shaped s'mores.

Martha, a perfectionist at everything from growing roses to ironing, outdid herself at Halloween, showing mere mortals how to carve artful pumpkins and spin chocolate spider webs for the tackiest holiday of the year. Giving it her all, she once posed as a witch in ghoulish black-widow makeup and creepy veil on the cover of a Martha Stewart Holiday issue.


The last Halloween Martha Stewart Catalog for Living.

_____Martha Stewart Coverage_____
Stewart Draws W.Va. Camp (The Washington Post, Sep 30, 2004)
Ink Expert Portrayed as Victim at Perjury Trial (The Washington Post, Sep 24, 2004)
Mark Burnett In TV Deal With Martha Stewart (The Washington Post, Sep 23, 2004)
Complete Trial Background

As Stewart prepares to report to prison on Oct. 8, the company she founded is making some changes.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced in August that the company's direct commerce business, which includes the mail-order catalogue as well as the online version (through www.marthastewart.com), is being discontinued at the end of 2004. The catalogue launched in 1997 under the name Martha By Mail; in 2002 the name was changed to Martha Stewart: The Catalog for Living.

The venture was never profitable, according to Elizabeth Estroff, a spokeswoman for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

But in many ways, the Catalog for Living was the retailer of Martha Stewart's domestic dreams. It offered her most devoted followers a guide to life as Martha, a way they could buy into the Martha mystique for their own kitchens and cutting gardens.

"Everyone always wants to know where Martha gets her garden clogs," read one catalogue offering the $39 versions in pink, sage and four other Martha-approved colors.

There was her favorite forged-steel, wood-handled trowel and leather-trimmed linen luggage designed to her specifications. There was the same type of polished copper serving tray Martha commissioned back in her catering days, in heart shapes and large rectangles. There were French-milled, fragrance-free, egg-shaped soaps in the pale blues and greens of her beloved Araucana chickens. And there were herringbone twill cat beds filled with aromatic dried chamomile, lavender and catnip, modeled by none other than Martha's own cats. There were even her favorite light bulbs.

The latest, and last, catalogue includes a pack of "dreadfully realistic" rats and Steiff mohair spiders, though none of them is touted as one of Martha's own Good Things. On the Web site, if you click on Tag Sale, the creepy Halloween vultures, which can be mounted on mantels and chandeliers, are already on sale at $28.

A spokeswoman confirms that the Web site (www.marthastewart.com) will continue to offer recipes and TV program guides. And it will also link to Kmart, which continues to sell Martha Stewart Everyday products, as well as to manufacturers such as Bernhardt and Sherwin-Williams, which sell Martha Stewart Signature furniture and paint through national retailers. The floral business, www.marthasflowers.com, will continue as well.

Several more seasonal Catalogs for Living will mail through the end of the year and the remaining products will be sold into 2005 through the Web site or through additional mailings until the inventory is depleted.

But you may never again find a black milk-glass cake stand for your Halloween cupcakes.

It's a bad thing.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company