Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Gift Post--Of Cards and Sheep and Ducks and Other Wonderful Card Stores in Town

This week I got a blog comment, complimenting our greeting cards.  That was followed by a request for more information about ordering them.  I'm actually fairly open about giving away vendors, but many stores are not.  One of our gift buyers at Schwartz told me that during the stationery show, one paper store in Manhattan was notorious for pulling their best finds off the floor.

This isn't a card pictured, but a rubber duck reading a book, which we picked up from Rich Frog. 

And of course there are card vendors that will do geographic exclusives.  One vendor I just placed an order with checked the map for nearby accounts.  The closest store that carried his product was Broadway Paper (which, by the way, does have a top notch card selection, but since I've started buying cards, I kind of stay away because I don't want the kind folks there to think I am poaching lines from them) which we decided was over three miles and about four neighborhoods away. 

They like a good letterpress card at Broadway Paper, but another store that has an strikingly good card selection, Beans and Barley, prefers saturated color in a way that you generally can't get from letterpress. I can't stay away from Beans the way I do Broadway because, well, I eat there all the time. And Paperwork across the street has a super vibrant selection too, making it tough to be a standout good buyer.  As you know, we have an agreement with Paperwork where they have an exclusive on about a half dozen or so great lines, like Great Arrow, so the selections wind up not looking too similar.  And of course we stay away from stationery or any custom printing. 

I'm currently in the midst of reordering Hello Lucky, another lovely letterpress line.  Since we don't do isbn/upc for cards, I have to keep track of our backers, sometimes provided by the press, sometimes custom.

Sometimes I do run into trouble by talking up our successes.  I had one gift item of which we'd sold well over 100.  When we brought it back in, I found it at many  stores around town that hadn't been carrying it.  The rep had used our success to place it at several locations that compete with us for sales, and the item has not had the great success of 2010.  Sometimes, however, it's not a question of saturation of the Milwaukee-area market, but just saturation of the Boswell market.  It's not unusual for us to have a hot item that sells multiples to customers. We have folks that special order cards just the way they order books.

We've been selling these Squeekaboos pretty well, but I've found most of them tend towards the orange, giving the display a bit of a hazy quality.  In the catalog, there was a penguin, which had no item number.  I did a little searching and found on the UK site for the manufacturer, Fiesta Crafts, not only a penguin but a sheep, with a very nice pink and yellow handle.  Alas, when I inquired at the American distributor, they had chosen not to pick up the sheep and the penguin.  Maybe if all you noise-making rattle stores all wished together, our dreams of penguins and sheep could come true. But you'd have to promise to buy a lot of them.
In the meantime, all the other varieties of Squeekaboos are selling quite well.  Even Greg (our receiver) likes them.

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