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Rodale Venturing Into Retail

The publisher of Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Prevention will launch its first online specialty store, Rodale’s, later this month.

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RODALE GETS INTO RETAIL: Rodale — publisher of Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Prevention — will venture into retail later this month with its first online specialty store, Rodale’s. In password-protected beta mode right now, Rodales.com will see an official consumer launch May 20. Featuring about 500 items from about 100 vendors, ethically sourced products range from $22 lip gloss to Eileen Fisher separates or an $800 duvet cover. Fashion brands include Melissa Joy Manning, Stewart+Brown, eyewear from Waiting for the Sun and recycled silver and freshwater pearl jewelry from Gabrielle Sanchez

Maria Rodale, chairman and chief executive officer of Rodale Inc., said e-commerce is key to the company’s business strategy moving forward. “We’re in the business of providing people with solutions, and traditionally those solutions have been the written word, digital or video — but solutions can often be products,” Rodale said of the company becoming the first publisher to run a stand-alone, in-house retail business that owns all inventory.

She declined to reveal sales projections but said the multicategory effort — which spans women’s apparel, specialty foods, toys, beauty and home — is “significant” and will hopefully take in several million dollars in sales the first year.

Rodale said that the company is committed to its core publishing business, and she’s keen on utilizing the marketing power of its existing brands and audience to promote the e-commerce venture. For now the two businesses are being kept relatively separate — there are ads for Rodale’s within the magazines and promoting across its newsletters and social channels, but no editorial promotes the e-commerce site. It may come in the future, though.

Order fulfillment is being done through a third-party company.