Catalog Retail

SkyMall is back and has big plans

Ben Popken

If you were worried about where you were going to get your zombie garden gnome, here's some relief. The company that bought the bankrupt in-flight shopping magazine SkyMall says they're bringing back the catalogs to airlines.

"@Skymall is back," the company's twitter account retweeted this week, setting off a series of tweets and news coverage.

Chaim Pikarski, executive vice president of C&A Marketing, which owns the SkyMall brand, said they are in talks to "relaunch the catalog in a few months with a few carriers." But his hopes are even higher for the future of the publication known for hawking its quirky products to fliers.

Source: SkyMall

The magazine might resurface in airport stores, lounges, hotels, resorts and other venues. There's even talk of a SkyMall store, he said. "We're looking at licensing deals with retailers, a store within a store or full stand-alone stores in airports or other venues," said Pikarski.

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A return to seatbacks and beyond would be a remarkable comeback. In January, SkyMall went bankrupt. In April, C&A Marketing of New Jersey bought it, with plans for a turnaround.

The company continued to sell its products online throughout the bankruptcy and afterward. Since then, the company's twitter account has been talking to fans, reassuring them that the website is live, that the company has new owners, and they'll bring back the catalog in some form.

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But the conversation kicked into higher gear this week after the company retweeted an aviation reporter's tweet, "This is not a drill. I repeat, NOT A DRILL. @SkyMall is back."

The plan to save SkyMall

That prompted excited tweets from fans and congratulatory articles in places like The Atlantic, ("The Medium Is the Massage Chair: SkyMall Is Making a Comeback,") BoingBoing and TIME, plus television coverage.

See Laura Keeney's tweet here.

The company knew there a waiting groundswell of support, said SkyMall PR rep Melissa Hoistion, but the reaction was still a surprise for a company whose website was still in "soft launch" mode.

Read MoreNewest metric for retailers: Social media followers

"We weren't ready," she said. "It started with The Atlantic and just spiraled from there."

Though it's the company's offbeat products like life-size Yetis that got chuckles in the cabin—and now drive social media chatter—it's the more functional ones that drive sales. CEO Pikarski said his best-selling products include a foldable bed and an adjustable keyboard stand.

"We're transforming from cutesy cool stuff that nobody buys to cool stuff that people actually buy," he said.