Monday, May 19, 2014

The show must go on

This Sunday was the beginning of the National Stationery Show, which may or may not be the largest stationery trade show in the country/world, but it does have the distinction of being the only one that I have heard of. The Bard's Cards was not exhibiting this year (we're a little too green for it), but we definitely wanted to check it out to get a sense of what it's all about, not to mention scope out the competition. We walked around the show yesterday, and it was incredibly overwhelming. I've been to the Javits Center for the Book Expo every year, so I was familiar with its enormity, but throw in enough brightly colored papers, and it seems even bigger.

The NSA is different from BEA in that it's not open to the public, only to people in the trade. There were no book signings and much fewer samples and free tote bags being handed out (well, at least not to the competition). People were there to do some serious greeting card buying, and there were some seriously cool booths and products out there. It actually really made me want to own and curate a small card shop. But that's a dream for another day. We were there strictly for reconnaissance.

The entrance to the NSS. There are hundreds of exhibitors back there and (according to NSS literature) over 12,000 attendees.
 The first takeaway from the show is that the booths are tremendously creative. You can't just get away with throwing down some basic carpeting, hanging a sign, and putting your product on tables. These people have serious lighting and design concepts. Structures were built. Ambience was created. I guess it should be expected from an industry mostly composed of artists and designers, but it made me that much gladder that we hadn't attempted to exhibit this year. I hadn't even conceived of a booth plan yet, but whatever my non-existent ideas were, I already know I need to kick 'em up a notch.

Some of the nominees for the Louie Awards in the "thank you" category.  That's another thing I learned this weekend: they give out awards for greeting cards, and they are called Louies. 
In addition to coveting competitors' booths, I also chatted with some of them. As a greeting card consumer and now being in the industry and actually looking at the logos on the backs of the cards, I've definitely started to notice the same letterpresses and designers popping up over and over again. It was fun to see the people behind a few of my favorites. Some of them are just husband and wife operations as well. I also hung out on the supply side of the expo and did some research on paper suppliers and printers (should this enterprise grow to require more than we can produce in our Astoria office). I now have adorably letter pressed business cards in abundance.

The greeting card industry is so colorful!
 One of the paper suppliers sponsored an alphabet scavenger hunt. Twenty six of the exhibitors were given a letter and a different type of paper to use and they came up with a creative card for their letter. You could go around to the different booths on the list and get your free card to create a really cool alphabet set. It was a nifty campaign, but the show was so big that I only got about half of them. If I have time, I'd like to go back and explore a bit more.

We have our work cut out for us for next year. I'm thinking we build a realistic scale model of The Globe. 
It's kind of blurry because I felt the need to try to be stealthy. But this is the sort of booth detailing that I would like to emulate.
Overall, our first foray into the National Stationery Show was a fun one. I highly recommend you check it out someday, readers, if you ever find yourselves a member of the greeting card industry.

1 comment:

  1. You could also hire an actor to perform popular Shakespearean monologues!