Measuring the 'Oprah Effect' on the Bottom Line

"We don't see the kind of sales impact Oprah has on other shows like the 'Today' show or Ellen DeGeneres," said Caulfield. "Oprah is an anomaly."

And Oprah's Midas touch affected business both large and small. Felix Doolittle, based in Newton, Mass., is a small stationery company. Co-owner Loren Sklar remembers the day the company heard that Oprah Winfrey had picked Felix Doolittle as her all-time favorite stationery. "When we were picked, it's hard to describe, you really do feel plucked out of the great masses and you have this light shine on you. It's something everyone in business dreams of," said Sklar.

Sklar said the imprimatur of an Oprah pick is unlike anything else, because Oprah's fans are so loyal. Felix Doolittle was first named to one of O magazine's gift lists more than a year ago. That selection translated immediately into sales and became a marketing tool the company could use on its Web site and Facebook page. "Felix Doolittle makes my all time favorite stationery" are the words that greet you now at FelixDoolittle.com.

At the taping of her show today in Chicago, Oprah addressed her loyal viewers and confirmed their worst fears that she had decided to end her successful talk show. "Twenty-five years feels right in my bones, and it feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number -- the exact right time."

Of course, what feels right for Oprah Winfrey feels very wrong for many companies across the country.

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