Update on the Full Performance
Evaluation of


Performance Evaluation and Research Division
Building 1, Room W-314
State Capitol Complex

(304) 347-4890

Issue Area 1: A Catalog and Internet page could help boost sales at Tamarack during the Christmas season and year-round.

Recommendation 1

Tamarack should produce a catalog of sufficiently warehoused and readily available items. This catalog would include items produced by vendors from the list provided by Tamarack management. Tamarack should attempt to have such a catalog for the upcoming Christmas season.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The Parkways Authority published a Tamarack catalog for distribution on October 16, 1998; the first printing was 20,000 copies. The catalog will be marketed toward businesses and geared toward corporate gift giving. The Tamarack catalog was designed and printed by Stirewalt & James, a company located in Wheeling. The total cost for the design and printing of 20,000 copies of the catalog was $15,329. According to preliminary drafts of the catalog, items for sale will be mostly bundled food gift sets averaging around $25. While the original preliminary performance review recommended for Tamarack to have a catalog for the Christmas 1996 season, the Legislative Auditor finds Tamarack in compliance on the production of this catalog. (A preliminary draft copy of the catalog provided to the Legislative Auditor can be seen in Appendix A. The final version will be distributed during the Joint Committee on Government Operations meeting.)

Recommendation 2

Tamarack officials should coordinate with the West Virginia University Office of Academic Computing to develop a state-of-the-art website enabling computer Internet users to shop and purchase Tamarack merchandise online, with special focus on the large ticket items.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

Tamarack contracted with Citynet to design and host a website that will allow for online purchasing. The website is located at and mirrored at for tracking purposes. The contract for the website was for $8715, and includes initial marketing of the site in Internet chat rooms, and registration of the address with search engines, such as Yahoo. Initially, approximately 55 products will be available for purchase online, broken down into 12 categories, much like Tamarack's floor displays. A broad price point is planned ranging in from $10 - $300, in addition to one of a kind items. The website will serve the dual purposes of online sales and marketing the Tamarack facility. (Appendix B shows selected printed pages of the website.) The Legislative Auditor has reviewed the Tamarack website, and finds that the Internet recommendation has been satisfied.

Recommendation 3

Tamarack officials should develop an 800 number service, along with developing shipping support for catalog and Internet sales.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

Tamarack has a toll free telephone number (1-88TAMARACK) which allows customers to order by telephone. According to Tamarack officials, approximately six orders a week are taken over the telephone. The toll free number is displayed on the website, but is not listed in the "800" number directory assistance. In addition, the Legislative Auditor could not find a listing for Tamarack in the Charleston phone directory.

Issue Area 2: Tamarack needs to improve its shipping policy to better serve its customers, and facilitate catalog and Internet sales.

Recommendation 4

Tamarack needs to develop a multi-tiered competitive shipping policy in order to better serve its customers.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance
A full-service post office called Tamarack Station, run by the U.S. Postal Service has been operating within Tamarack since May 1, 1997. With the opening of this post office, Tamarack is now able to have on-site packaging and shipping of goods purchased at the facility. The post office is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During hours in which the post office is closed, a customer can take his or her purchased item to a sales associate and the associate can use a shipping form located at each sales site to estimate the cost for the item(s) to be shipped. If the cost of shipping for larger items by the U. S. Postal Service is too expensive then two companies located in the Beckley area are used - Quick Delivery Services, and Mail Boxes, Etc.

With the location of the Post Office within the Caperton Center, Tamarack has developed a shipping policy, relying on the shipping rates of the Post Office. With this arrangement Tamarack officials have not only taken care of their shipping policy needs, but also brings some prestige to the facility, and provides a greater level of customer service. In addition, all shipping for the new online commerce, and for the Tamarack catalog will be handled by the Postal Service or the shipping companies mentioned above. While this may not be the type of shipping policy the Legislative Auditor recommended, the relationship that Tamarack has developed with the U.S. Postal Service far exceeds the recommendations, and may be more convenient for the customer. This is an example of Tamarack's attempt to improve customer service. The Legislative Auditor commends Tamarack officials for negotiating this relationship with the U.S. Postal Service.

Recommendation 5

Tamarack should properly train its sales staff on the shipping policy to improve customer service.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

With the U.S. Post Office located conveniently inside Tamarack, sales staff can easily direct customers toward the centrally located postal service office to take care of their shipping needs.