Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Gift Post--Greeting Card Musings.

Let's see if I can count correctly this time. It's the week before Father's Day, and once again, our selection is very good this week for Father's Day cards, but it will not be so good next week.  Here is an assortment of my favorites.

As usual, I spent part of my trip to New York looking at other people's cards. I found at least one line that I ordered, but more than that, I noticed a sign in one store that said, "Please don't take the cards out of the plastic sleeves."

I'm going to be blunt here; it's not our favorite cleanup project. Sleeved cards are 99% blank inside, and when they aren't, the message is on the back. We find sleeved cards taken apart with regularity, and more times than you'd imagine, the sleeve goes in one slot, the card goes in another, the envelope goes in a third, and none of them are in the place where the card came from. Sometimes we won't be able to sort it out for days. Here are some new designs we love from Good Paper and Sanctuary Spring. The former is made in Africa, the latter in the Philippines, but both have the same concept--working with locals in humane conditions, with some of the proceeds going back to help the communities. The African cards have more of a raw feeling, while the designs of Sanctuary Spring, while still effectively collages, have more of a precise, laser-cut feel.

While most card catalogs come out in January, and more and more rely on websites, our friends at Saturn Press have made their new catalog an almost rite of passage, like the arrival of beaujolais nouveau. Their catalog arrives in April, with the jacket being a letterpress image of one of their new titles. The paper is as special as the cards themselves, printed on an indie press right here in Wisconsin. I love this new collection of seasonal nature images.

We have more and more local artists designing cards in Wisconsin and though we have supported them, we do find that sometimes the paper and print quality is lacking, and the ones that do it right wind up in all the other places where our customers go, like Outpost and Beans and Barley and Paperwork. I don't want our experiences to be identical at each store, and particularly because I know and respect all those buyers, I will sometimes do a work around (though of course we always have at least a dozen Sue Vliet images).

It turns out that Chicago is much closer than much of Wisconsin geographically. I'm always surprised that a Superior or Wausau product will be considered more local than one in Chicago. Borders are such strange things. The same is true for cards. Two Chicago lines we've been doing very well with are The Found and Fresh Frances. Clearly the former favors red and the latter white. Displayed together, they almost resemble the flag of Chi-waukee.

And finally, I noticed that the gift vendors are pulling back from the Book Expo show. While there were a few new vendors, several others had reduced space or even skipped the show. I suspect part of the issue is that many larger stores send buyers to gift shows, and there's not rights action on the side that book vendors get. That said, I finally picked up a Fotofolio catalog, and after talking to our friend Lucy at Talking Leaves in Buffalo, we're going to try some things.

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