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Turning The Page

Catalog maven John Peterman deals with a new chapter . . . Chapter 11.

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This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

John Peterman started J. Peterman Co. and its legendary mail-order catalog in 1987 with a $20,000 unsecured loan. The company had annual sales of $75 million by the time it went bank-rupt in January 1999, a victim of excessively fast growth. In between, the J. Peterman persona became part of pop culture as actor John O'Hurley portrayed Peterman as Elaine's boss on Seinfeld.

Peterman still has his hands full, working on a book due out in October, Never Take No for an Answer (Prentice-Hall), and starting JohnPeterman.com, a multimedia business devoted to shopping the world. This mail-order icon recently took some time out to discuss what he did right . . . and wrong.

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