The Week Launches E-Commerce Site

Retail model based on sibling pub Mental Floss

Dennis Publishing’s newsmagazine The Week is taking a page from sibling title Mental Floss’ playbook and delving into e-commerce. Today, The Week is launching an online store where readers can buy gifts like branded coffee mugs, books and desk accessories.

The store is modeled after the e-commerce template created by bimonthly magazine Mental Floss, which has had success with its online retail division, selling quirky tees and other fun, giftable items. Since Dennis acquired Mental Floss back in 2011, its e-commerce division has doubled, according to the company, and is now a seven-figure business that contributes 25 percent of the brand’s revenue.

“One of the reasons we acquired Mental Floss is because they had so many revenue streams,” said Steven Kotok, CEO of The Week and Mental Floss. The Week’s readers, he said, were clearly interested in sharing the brand—the magazine’s gift subscription business has grown to $7 million—so it made sense to create an e-commerce destination where The Week could sell other gifts, using the in-house retail infrastructure already in place thanks to Mental Floss.

“We certainly feel that those same people who are willing to give The Week as a gift for $50 or $60 bucks a shot will buy millions of dollars in other gifts,” said Kotok. And while he doesn’t necessarily see The Week’s e-commerce business making up 25 percent of the brand’s revenue, given how much larger The Week is than Mental Floss, he hopes that it will at least reach the same amount of revenue.

If Mental Floss’s store is best known for selling nerdy-cool merchandise (like tees that say “Simple As 3.141592…”), The Week’s retail philosophy will be focused on smart gifts for grown-ups. “People would rather buy something from us than from Amazon, in part because of what it says about them,” said Kotok. “That’s a lot of the appeal.”

Included in 100 products that will be sold at launch are branded wine totes, desk toys like a “high-end” carved wooden slingshot, gag gifts like the “Law School in a Box,” plenty of books, and, of course, tees (the “National Debt Clock” shirt—complete with Uncle Sam’s finger pressing the “snooze” button—is a favorite). Goods sold at The Week’s store will be slightly more expensive than those sold by Mental Floss, given that its readers are generally older and have more money, said Kotok.

The online store will be promoted in the magazine, The Week’s main website and email newsletters. The brand is also creating a standalone catalog that will go out to the magazine’s subscribers.