The folks at L.L. Bean needn't worry about it too much, but financial professionals in the market for a nifty sweatshirt might want to get the new Ibbotson Associates catalog.
The four-color catalog's main aim is to peddle such products as Ibbotson's data publications, computer software and consulting services. But included in its pages is a selection of gift items including coffee mugs, coasters and even sweatshirts and T-shirts emblazoned with a colorful chart comparing the trends in stocks, bonds and inflation from 1925 through 1992.
The gift items, which were first offered two years ago, are big business, said Carl Gargula, managing director and general counsel for the Chicago-based firm.
"Believe it or not, we sell thousands and thousands of those coffee mugs," said Mr. Gargula, who came up with the idea for the gift line. "Clients come in and order 5,000 at a pop."
Could public display of financial data prove to be the next fashion trend? It's possible. Mr. Gargula tells stories of being asked in airplanes and other public places where he got his Ibbotson sweatshirt.
"Everybody wants to find a cute little gift for their clients and contacts," he said.
The gift line has been so successful, Ibbotson plans to keep expanding it. Possible new items: paper weights and additions to Ibbotson's line of calendars.
"It's not our main line of business, but it's interesting and it's fun," Mr. Gargula said.