First up: The Trends.
- Letterpress, letterpress, letterpress. Letterpress is to the National Stationery Show as salsa was to the fancy food world in the 1980s and as candles were to the gift industry in the 1990s. It’s EVERYWHERE. It’s lovely. But, as a buyer friend of mine conceded: the stationery show is a tough one to walk because after a few aisles, everything starts looking like little white and cream blurbs and no one single letterpress company stands out (author note: don’t shoot me. I’m simply relaying a buyer’s perspective).
- Snarky cards. These ain’t your Meemaw’s Hallmark Cards. “Crying means you’re weak.” “Balls are funny.” “Pregnant or fat?” (Snarkiest of all come from Mean Cards). Love it or hate it: your call.
- Vintage, vintage, vintage. 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. There was so much of it, it made my “non-industry” friends/helpers Sarah, Nina and Jess wonder “what’s next?” (snarky vintage letterpress, perhaps?)
- Green, green, green, eco-friendly, recycled yadda yadda. Some of the signage made me feel like I was looking at a Starbucks menu (“I’ll have the acid-free, recycled, chlorine-free paper that was printed with wind-generated power credits and some soy ink”).
- Dimension: if it’s embossed, cut-out, pop-up or 3-D…it’s kinda in right now.
- Colors: with the exception of a few saccharine-laden pink and green preppy hold-outs, a lot of the colors were muted: burnt faded orange, robin’s egg blue, celery green, shopping bag brown. Kind o’ dull, not vibrant. Are we depressed? I’m not giving up my clean, vibrant colors for anything. In fact: bold color is what drew a lot of people into my booth.
Have you been waiting on pins and needles, waiting for me to answer the gripping questions from my original post? I am so sure of it….
- The flight was on time. I, however, was not….because I looked at my ARRIVAL time, not my DEPARTURE time on my itinerary. Mix that in with a little bit of “Oh, we don’t fly to LGA anymore. Your flight was to JFK instead” from Delta, and that’s how I ended up buying a one way ticket to LGA on my nemesis, USAirways. As my former manager Doug Kline would say, “Never underestimate my stupidity.” [Note: it is my goal to incorporate as many Doug-isms into this blog as humanly possible].
- The crate was in the booth, as promised. Thank you, NEMF. Eugene and Tommy: you guys rock.
- Electricians = great. Even friendly. My days of ducking the union guys in the Javits are long behind me, and set up is much easier – if not more expensive – because of it.
- Neighbors were wonderful, fortunately. Especially Jim and Albert from The FOUND. Who would have thought that vintage mug shots were so marketable? Brilliant concept coupled with good design. Love it.
- Show traffic ebbed and waned in its usual pattern. Sunday and Monday were “it”…Tuesday it dried up more…Wednesday, there were tumbleweeds in the aisles. Thank GOD the show closed at noon.
- There WERE buyers mixed in with the browsers. Hooray. And the vibe didn’t seem nearly as dismal as what was reported out from the January NY and Atlanta Gift Shows…the ones during which attendees walked down the middle of the aisles, refusing to make eye contact with exhibitors, lest someone actually try to SELL them something. Folks, perhaps we’re clawing our way back up from the bottom after all.
So, it was all good. Met some great people, wrote some nice orders, got several good leads, listened to productive feedback.
And while neither my desk calendar nor my bag tags won “Best New Product,” at least I lost to something that I couldn’t argue about: Kookie Stationery – jumbo-sized iced cookies that come with a food safe pen to write a message. Yum.