Friday, September 6, 2019

A Boswell gift post - what's happening in greeting cards

It's September and that means it's time to get our fall holiday spinner up. Normally I'd put out the 12-pocket one, but we're having such success with the New Yorker cards (two reorders in two months) that I'm loathe to consolidate them into our regular assortment. It took me close to ten years to bring them in and now I feel I lost ten years of sale. With each reorder, we've been able to bring in a few new designs in addition to reordering the old ones. Here's some sausage details - I usually reorder a block card if it sells out in six months, but I can't figure out if this card buyer is going broad (lots of different designs) or deep (multiple units of the same card) and that would determine how much I rotate them.

Fortunately, by just adding two fall themed blank cards, I was able to fill a 24 unit spinner with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and a few Rosh Hashanah cards. One of the things I've learned over the past few years is that Halloween doesn't sell as well as I thought it would (based on how many cards are on the market) while Thanksgiving sells a bit better (with a far more limited selection to choose from). Do you think perhaps that the Thanksgiving card is an end-of-year alternative to Christmas/generic-holiday/New Year/a-tiny-bit-of-Hanukkah cards? We're also looking for general interest lines that might feature some Ramadan, Hajj, and Eid cards, which according to this article, are the three holidays where Muslims send cards. 

We usually do also try a new local line each year. Earlier I brought in Persika Design, which is the work of Christina Schepmann Thomas. The secret trick to get reorders is more birthday and less friendship/love, which has a strong Valentine's Day sale but is modest the rest of the year. I get the feeling that this is a stronger category in boutiques. I also feel like this is changing. When we opened, I read several columns advising indicating that our percentage of blanks were too high. Now I'm seeing that they turn faster than all our occasion cards except birthday and they are neck-and-neck with sympathy. 

In addition to Nelson Line's New Yorker cards,the Little Red House's blank bird cards, designed by Aggie Cheung in San Jose, have been a big hit. Another line that seemed weak on birthday but is turning just fine is Anthology, created by the Sisters Komai (Sachi and Laura) for their store on State Street in Madison. They wrote to me and asked if I wanted to try their cards, many of which are Wisconsin themed, and I did. I've now reordered three times. They also have wonderful Madison-themed cards, but we don't have those at Boswell. 

Our latest local line is She Said It, from Kathryn Christenson and her daughter Anna, working from the based in the Milwaukee and Madison area. The line is a collection of quotes from women in history. I'm generally not a text card enthusiast. We brought in one line that really didn't sell well and have rejected a dozen more. I think people think that because we're a bookstore filled with text, we like plain text, but when it comes to cards, I think we need a little art too, to pop. The cards are multicolored and hand-lettered, which make all the difference, I hope!

So far we brought in eight designs and five are on the shelf - more will come out as space opens up. The quotes are from Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Breedlove, Marie Curie, George Eliot, Florence Nightingale, Sacajawea, Harriet Tubman. Oh, and Jane Austen. Currently I have them in encouragement, even though there are cards not too dissimilar in blank. Hey, it's sort of like you'll see a book on baseball during World War II sometimes in the baseball section and sometimes in the World War II section, depending on the store. 

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