Service of It’s in the Cards

May 26th, 2016

Categories: Greeting Cards, Stationery, Trade Show

Ceiling of new subway station near Javits Center--No. 7 extension

Ceiling of new subway station near Javits Center–No. 7 extension

As I left the National Stationery Show at the Javits Center last week I stopped to speak with a guard to ask him whether he was worried about the thousands of wonderfully designed and illustrated cards for sale at a time in which people are writing less and mailing fewer and fewer greetings. I’d counted well over 300 companies in the program’s greeting card category. Some booths exhibited hundreds of options and others about 30. You do the math. 

“I send cards to my grandmother and mother,” he said. “Don’t worry. Lots of people mail cards.” 

I’m still concerned especially for what seemed to be the majority ofletterpress machine small booths that sell pricey, letterpress printed missives. I’ve noticed, in NYC at least, fewer shops which offer these cards at costs in the $6-$10/range and increasing numbers of greeting cards at lower price points in drug and grocery stores.

As I’ve written in previous posts, I adore paper—the scent and texture—and I also like to send greeting cards and display those people send to me. [Easter cards still decorate a shelf in my apartment.]

 A few of the things I enjoyed at the stationery show:  

  • Three blue birdsThe Swedish dishcloths from Three Blue Birds. I first saw this company’s wares last year at a craft show in New Paltz and gave away many as gifts. I spoke with the designer who said it was his first commercial show and he was pleased with the reception to his cloths that are printed in Connecticut.
  • The quilling on cards sold by Massachusetts-based Quilling Card is done in Viet Nam. A quick look at Wikipedia tells us that the art of rolling, gluing and shaping strips of paper at varying widths has been around since the Renaissance at least.
  • I saw the hip, glittery cards, made in NYC by Verrier [photo right], at theVerrier greeting cards show and also for sale at a kiosk in Grand Central Station.
  • Running water made me look at Rite in the Rain out of Tacoma, Wash. A special coating achieves a moisture shield on the paper so you can, as its name implies, write in the rain!  

Should I worry about the stationery business or do you think that there will always be wonderful cards and stationery products and enough people to send them?  Do you have favorite places to buy cards? Do you no longer send them? 

 

Cursive in Grand Central Station, NYC

Cursive in Grand Central Station, NYC

 

 

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10 Responses to “Service of It’s in the Cards”

  1. Deborah Brown Said:

    I think it’s an age issue and indicative of a changing marketplace.

    Younger people primarily communicate on Facebook, Internet, etc. This past Christmas, I received almost as many Jacqui Larson animated cards and others over the Internet as “real, hold-in-your-hand cards.” Invitations to casual gatherings are now “Evites.” A wedding invitation I received recently was preceded by an elaborately designed Email to save the date along with where the couple is registered. On my last visit to a local NYC neighborhood Papyrus store revealed great gift ideas but few cards under $7.00. The local Hallmark store in the country is out of business.
    Oh! And a “Thank you for the check/gift-card”…forgetaboutit!

    The times they are a’changin’!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debby,

    Your experience matches mine which is why I was surprised by the numbers of exhibitors at the show! I realize it’s a big country but….and I won’t spring for a $7 card.

    In Rhinebeck, N.Y. is a wonderful store–Paper Trail–that sells great cards, among other wonderful gifts. My husband went back to the drawing board after he reached the cash register, just before Easter, with card that he learned cost over $30, he later told me. But you can find fun birthday cards there for $4-$5 as well.

    Trader Joe has charming cards for 99 cents. Some are printed on fine paper. The graphics of others are stunning. TJ Maxx’s cards are $1.99.

    Times are changing and so can you [and moi]. I imagine that unless you are handing the check or gift card to someone in person, you could skip a year and similarly boycott the USPS and either keep the money in your account or donate it to a charity and text the former recipients that this is what you’ve done.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Finding the right card is always fun. It was greater fun before the local Papyrus suddenly closed a couple of years ago.

    No sense worrying about the fate of the card industry, unless one has the ability to do something about it, except to send more cards!

  4. hb Said:

    As Debbie points out times change.

    Reading, writing and cards are going out of style. It is all electronic now.

    My particular love used to be well-made books. There is little interest in them these days. It is especially tough on all those skilled craftsmen and artisans whose skills are no longer cherished, but that is what progress brings.

    Sic transit Gloria,

    HB

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I’m concerned about the many hopefuls who pay a lot of money to set up and attend a trade show in an expensive city and am curious what they know–that we don’t–about who is buying their wares and where.

    The fact that your Papyrus branch closed and that you don’t mention another store of equal quality to take its place illustrates the point. A shame as Papyrus always had a choice of good cards.

    I love searching for good cards too. When I see one that’s perfect for someone, I buy it, even if the occasion is months away. THEN I must remember where I stashed it: At the office? At the house? I should be more disciplined and keep them all in one place.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    hb,

    Just because they are holding a tablet and not a book doesn’t mean people aren’t reading. And they are remembering birthdays with electronic cards or in Facebook posts. Some friends HATE the electronic cards. I find them handy especially if I’ve just learned that it’s someone’s birthday and that TODAY is the day! I’m able to wish someone “Bon Voyage” which I wouldn’t otherwise do. I appreciate receiving them in the spirit of “it’s the thought that counts.” And some are really fun.

  7. EAM Said:

    I discovered the site http://www.lovepopcards.com/ from the show “Shark Tank”. They are amazing pop-up card creations. I also found out about http://www.emilymcdowell.com from NBC News. She has great cards for sympathy (for people with cancer that are humorous and not patronizing).

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    Thanks for those leads! They underscore the power of publicity: Those brands reached a chunk of customers, some commercial, others card-lovers, without the company having to be a presence at a trade show. Clearly trade shows have their place but businesses should not overlook another tried and true means of dusting up business.

  9. Jim Kopriva Said:

    Thank you for visiting our booth and for including us in your post. I’ll have to show your post to my girlfriend – her first job was at a Hallmark shop and she’s since come to love giving and receiving cards for any reason and any occasion. There are others out there like her!

    My Christmas gift to her was a little antique mailbox for her dresser that I occasionally stuff little notes into for her.

    We’re 100 years old but still a little bit of a secret to society at large – what progress we’ve made over our century of business has come from conversations like that one. Personal introductions to our brand and product go a very long way, and we appreciate that you’ve ‘enlightened’ more folks out there.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jim,

    I keep thinking of the Arts & Crafts movement that celebrated handmade works and flourished in response to the Industrial Revolution. There will always be people who appreciate customs that others consider passé. Add me to the list with your girlfriend.

    As for the antique mailbox–what a charming idea and your notes to her–a lovely and unusual way to communicate.

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