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Julia Christianson, a staff member at Landis Gifts & Stationery LLC, who works in sales and graphic design. Invitations for 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthday parties are popular sellers at the store.
By Karen Appold

f you ask Edie Frere, owner, Landis Stationery, Los Angeles, Calif., correspondence is not dead. “We are selling lots of boxed stationery, more than ever before in fact, because people realize the value of receiving a handwritten note in their mailbox,” she said. “No one has ever cherished a fax or email. They want something to hold on to.”

While examining trends, she notes that in the past five years the store’s biggest growth market was in male customers. “But now it’s across all types of groups, including Millennials,” said Frere, who points to a June article in The Boston Globe that cites a surge in 18 to 34-year-olds buying greeting cards.

“Our greeting card sales have certainly increased, which helps us to sell personalized stationery–which is less expensive than buying a greeting card,” Frere said. “It doesn’t matter if your handwriting is good or bad. People appreciate the personal touch.”

Regarding invitations, Frere said customers seek them out for first, second and third birthday parties most often. “Parents want something to live in their child’s scrapbook, especially for little girls who will appreciate having this memorabilia as they get older,” she said.

Megan Stuhlberg, owner, Stuhlbergs, Seattle, Wash., has found that stationery trends tend to parallel what is happening in the fashion and design worlds. “A couple of years ago, silver, chrome and pewter were the top metallics,” she said. “Today, anything accented with gold is a sure sell in the stationery world. Gold foil is particularly popular, while rose gold is gaining favor among the Millennials. I see the carryover to gifts and paper goods.”

A journal and other merchandise at Landis Gifts & Stationery LLC in Los Angeles, Calif. Boxed stationery does well for the store.

Stuhlberg has also discovered that anything with humor sells at her 2,200-square-foot store. “Customers shop in my store because they want an experience,” she said. “They want to laugh, feel appreciated and have a connection.” Stuhlberg said that with the advent of social media and texting, people are incredibly connected, resulting in fewer handwritten notes. “That said, customers come in and really respond to funny and clever stationery, and continue to purchase it,” she said.

Damond Gallagher, co-owner, Whist, Asheville, N.C., pointed to Rifle Paper Co. as a trendsetter. “Its design sense and style have had ripple effects throughout the greeting card industry; it has become a major player.” The company designs its cards from paintings. “They are illustrative and colorful with sophistication,” he said.

Top Tips to Sell Cards

Jimmy Ferrari, owner, With Love Gift & Paperie, San Diego, Calif., chooses his cards individually. “I read each one before ordering it; I don’t order an entire line,” he said. Due to the Internet, Ferrari said that people’s attention spans have waned, and therefore cards with minimal writing rule at his roost. “Cards that are funny and witty, with a catchy quotation and beautiful images, sell best,” he said. “I take pride in finding the perfect card for every occasion.”

Jimmy Diego Ferrari, owner, With Love Gift & Paperie, photographed with merchandise. “I take pride in finding the perfect card for every occasion,” he said.

With Love Gift & Paperie stocks 35 different lines of cards, with 35 to 40 percent made locally in San Diego and about 50 to 60 percent made in the United States. “I take pride in that, and I think people like supporting my shop for that reason,” Ferrari said. “Sixty-eight percent of money spent in my shop goes back to the local economy.” He promotes this fact by sharing it with customers and having signage stating just that. He also touts it on social media.

Ferrari gives special attention to men who are having difficulty with their card searches. “A lot of men who feel obligated to find a card are already frustrated when they enter my store,” he said. “They only want to spend three minutes and $2. I try to change their mental state and tell them they need the right mindset if they’re going to find the right card. I ask them whom they’re looking for and what the occasion is.” The store boasts more than 1,500 square feet.

Frere has found that having a good assortment of cards works wonders. “I choose cards along with the staff, who are a variety of ages, so we can ensure that our selection will appeal to age groups across the board,” she said. Knowing her demographic is also essential. “We don’t sell raunchy humorous cards, even though there were a lot of them displayed at a recent stationery show I attended. That doesn’t work for our neighborhood and clientele.”

A card display at With Love Gift & Paperie, San Diego, Calif. The owner does not order entire lines, but rather reads each card before ordering individual selections.

Educating customers also works well for Frere. For example, she’s found that men rarely buy folded notecards. Consequently, if someone is giving a man a present, she will suggest that they give him a flat card because that’s what men typically choose to buy themselves.

Gallagher has also found that having a diverse assortment of cards, including blank cards and different price points, is key. “The greeting cards that we sell drive the rest of our business,” he said. “Customers will oftentimes buy a card and pick up a gift as well.” Cards consume approximately 20 percent of the store’s 1,000 square feet, and are available in a range of price points from $2.95 to $6. Like Frere, he tailors the selection to his community’s preferences.

Wrapping It Up
Frere sells gift wrap from the stationery companies that she orders from. Currently, wrap with geometric and floral designs sells well, along with wrap for baby gifts. Solid colors are out.

Frere was so delighted with a recent find at a show—gift wrap that looks like the Sunday comics called Funnies Wrap, that she used it in her window display. “I remember wrapping gifts with the Sunday funnies when I was a kid,” she said.

An interior view of With Love Gift & Paperie, and a unique display. Sixty-eight percent of money spent in the shop goes back to the local economy.

Ferrari says gift wrap that’s seasonal or for birthdays is the most sought after. “When people buy a card, I try to promote selling a gift as well and then ask if they need wrapping paper of if they want me to wrap it so they are ready to go,” he said. “Usually wrapping is free, unless it’s something elaborate.”

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