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Your Registry & Gourmet Catalog
Partner To Grow Service Offerings

May 26 - June 8, 2003
By Cynthia Ward Vesey, Associate Editor


SAN FRANCISCO - Elsa Pinto-Melikian, president of Your Registry, and Janis Johnson, president of Gourmet Catalog, have something in common with their clients: independence.

Pinto-Melikian describes herself and Johnson as "fiercely independent." She said they share this trait with the independent retailers they work with.

Although they didn't meet in person until a few weeks ago, both Pinto-Melikian and Johnson had heard a lot about each other. "We heard about each other through common customers," said Johnson, who once owned a retail store/cooking school and produced advertising for gourmet specialty stores.

Now the two women have joined forces. Your Registry will have access to Gourmet Catalog's customers, and vice versa. "We're partnering together to grow our service offerings," said Pinto-Melikian, who offers registry services to retail and service merchants and their clients. Her company is headquartered in Sacramento, CA, and she has about 100 clients.

Gourmet Catalog, located in Dallas, is a buying service for gourmet specialty stores and negotiates discounts for the stores. The Gourmet Catalog Program provides retailers with cost-effective advertising and marketing solutions as well as full-color catalogs. For about two months, the two women have been talking over the phone about their respective businesses. "We recently had a meeting and decided we want to work together," Pinto-Melikian said.

"Our partnership came about primarily because we have the same objectives. We both deal with independent retailers and make what they do"easier," said Johnson, who started her company in 1981 and has a current listing of 117 store locations nationwide.

"We're excited about this opportunity," continued Johnson. "Our customer base is so similar. We want to create more opportunities for each other's customers." According to Pinto-Melikian, the main question they are addressing is how they can make what they do into something better.

Specified Modifications

To provide information on her services to Gourmet Catalog's clients, Pinto-Melikian has created a proposal for them. "I modified the registry program to create a product specifically for Johnson's clients," she explained.

Johnson will develop a proposal for Pinto-Melikian's customers. "It's a huge advantage for the high-end gourmet stores to work with Johnson," Pinto-Melikian said.

Both women work closely with their customers, providing helpful advice and personal service. "We have similar focuses," said Pinto-Melikian, now in her fifth year of business. "Very few companies are interested in providing services to customers."

In addition, Pinto-Melikian said they're both very responsive to others. "We have a natural desire to work problems out for our clients and be a resource," she noted.

At this time, the two businesswomen are putting together a plan of action. "We're establishing action items," said Pinto-Melikian. "I haven't funneled them into a business model yet. We have a lot of ideas."

The plan will allow the women to support and augment each other's businesses. "We want to develop a strategy to improve both of our programs," explained Johnson.

Since they are discussing ways to enhance their clients' businesses, the women will share their ideas with the retailers to get their input. "Our goal is to establish what our customers want," said Johnson.

"It's amazing. We have exactly the same vision," said Pinto-Melikian.

© 2003 - ICD Publications

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