Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday Gift Post--The Holiday Cards are Coming

While it still felt slightly early to repurpose our cooking table to holiday cards, it seemed like the summer clearance table had its time in the sun and that would be a good space for a sneak peak at the cards. Of course they've now been up for close to two weeks--I suppose will be moving them to the bigger space shortly.

We've been carrying the Madison Park holiday cards since we've opened. One of the weird things about the catalog is that artists aren't listed. You can find the artist on bulk cards, but MP's boxes have tamper-proof opening. So let's just say that this artist did pretty well last year, so I increased our assortment of his or her work.

We've also been carrying Saturn Press since our start, a carry over when I tried to figure out what to buy by looking at the Schwartz Downer sales the previous year. I got the feeling that this store did not do very well in holiday cards. What a difference five years makes!

While there are several other retailers in the area that stock Saturn Press, we still do quite well, considering that for boxed cards, this is the most luxe (meaning high-priced) we get, pricing out at $2 a card. Amusingly enough, that's peanuts for a loose card,but in the boxed market, the average of our cards is closer to $1.50.

Saturn is letterpress printed on an island off the coast of Maine, using paper from a family-run Wisconsin mill. Here are three selections from about a dozen we carry.  Have I mentioned how I see more of the color blue in holiday decorations every year, and cards are no exception. Some of Saturn's nicest cards have blue as the dominant color--not shown are ice bear, overlook (deer), and three doves, all of which are on fields of blue night sky.

Our best value in greeting cards is Peter Pauper, which come to about $1 per card. Most of their larger cards come in sturdy, resuable boxes, but on this post I've decided to focus on their smaller trim line. I noticed that Madison Park has also expanded smaller trim, in more of a "thank you" format. I guess that must be hot.

Like Chronicle's Galison line, these cards are produced in China, though I wonderful how changes in the market have changed the equation for printing cards abroad. The interesting thing about Peter Pauper is that it's a gift line that you rarely see in gift stores; it seems like bookstores are a very important part of their market, and their items are usually sold in by book reps. I'm waiting for the "keep calm" business to be over. I've definitely cut back on our assortment, but the basic cards and journals continue to sell.

Nouvelle images is a French line with a distinct esthetic, though interestingly enough, it's cards are printed in the USA. It's sometimes hard to get the correct info from them online or in their catalogs, and believe it or not, I like that. When it comes to gift items, the more complicated the better. It means you won't see as much penetration. Nothing warms my heart like a nice line without a upc code!

When several Boswellians were oohing and ahhing over the line, several pointed to Nouvelles Images designs as their favorites, such as the bears in front of their holiday tree. It's a stamp design, so there's actually a mark that says how many euros it cost. Another bookseller liked the woman with dog (also above), which is either a reproduction or a re-imagining of an old magazine cover. I of course love the Christmas tree done in color swatches.

We've got a number of other lines on display and more to come. And it gets even more eclectic with our loose holiday cards. They will go on display in November. Don't forget, we never restock boxed cards, and rarely reorder loose ones either. So if you see something you like, pick it up now.

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