Secrets for Selling to the Idle Rich
Ultimate Shopping Network is taking televised sales upscale by persuading wealthy viewers to open up their wallets for high-end products.
By Duff McDonald

(Business 2.0) – Say "televised home shopping" and many consumers think of tacky baubles and B-list celebrities hawking uninspired fashions. But in May 2003, entrepreneurs Michael Reinstein and Brian Kelly launched Ultimate Shopping Network, a boob-tube retail channel with a Neiman Marcus feel. Offering high-quality jewelry, one-of-a kind collectibles, premium watches, and lavish customer service, USN is carving out an upscale niche, with an average transaction amount of $811--vastly more than the $120 industry average. With a reach that extends to 30 million households and 2004 sales of $8 million, Los Angeles-based USN is still a tiny boutique compared with a $5 billion mass-market giant like QVC. But Kelly says USN expects to turn profitable during the first quarter of 2006, using these shrewd techniques to sell big-ticket items to high-income couch potatoes. -- DUFF MCDONALD