Data Is Power. Just Ask Fingerhut

It's able to offer credit cards to a lower-income market

For Marilyn Gnat, the Fingerhut catalog is a godsend. It has allowed the retired dime-store salesclerk from Eagle River, Wis., to buy everything from pots and pans to a teddy bear cookie jar with matching salt and pepper shakers--all on the installment plan. "When I started out, Fingerhut was the only place that would give me credit," says Gnat, who raised nine children on her modest income.

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