When I delivered my remarks to the well-attended GCA-sponsored gathering in Atlanta in January, I enthused that it was a great time to belong to the GCA, citing our 10-year-high membership level, the building excitement around our Noted expo planned for San Francisco in May, and the continued growth in sales of greeting cards to Millennials. Four months and a world-stopping virus later, I remain not only enthusiastic about the GCA, but more certain than ever of the relevance of greeting cards to today’s consumers, and of the importance of the GCA for our industry.
I am also very proud of how our association has responded to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our industry, even though we have had to cancel so many of our planned events that my presidency is threatened with the George Cancels Activities moniker.
Rather than let such event cancellations halt our momentum, we quickly switched gears to offer valuable content to our members, retailers, sales reps, and other industry supporters. On the very day that Noted had planned to open live in San Francisco (when I envisioned myself enjoying a well-researched donut from Bob’s Donuts), we delivered an amazing Noted: The Virtual Greeting Card Expo, with three excellent sessions and well over 200 participants. My Noted co-chair, John Smyth, provides more details about Virtual Noted elsewhere in this edition of Card Talk. But the fact that we were able to put together and deliver such a high-quality, well attended (and all new!) event in such a short time frame speaks quite well of what our GCA can do.
I should also mention the extremely useful information that we have been posting in the members-only section of our website (https://www.greetingcard.org/summary-of-cares-for-gca-membership/) to keep members updated on the ever-evolving Federal government response to COVID-19. Our VP of Public Affairs, Rafe Morrissey, has done a terrific job distilling complex laws and regulations and quickly updating the site with helpful details on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other programs vital to our industry and member companies.
While I am convinced that this is not the “new normal”, I am equally convinced that there are many, many transitions necessary before we get back to anything approaching the “old normal.” The GCA therefore needs to be flexible and creative to ensure we are delivering the content and services that our members need in these changing times. The weekly “Town Hall” Zoom-gathering of former mentors and mentees, chaired by “Mayor” and GCA Past President Carlos Llanso, is a great example of what we can do. Part support group, part education and information sharing, and all about greeting card love, the Town Hall connects makers, retailers, and other members of the community in a way that has been quite meaningful for those of us participating.
We will now build on that, ready to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-changing business environment in which we now operate. As I like to say, “Whenever two or more makers are gathered together, good things come of it.” I not only look forward to your input on how the GCA can continue and accelerate our effort to maximize connections in our industry, but also your help in enabling us to do so. After all, the GCA is a volunteer organization, and only as great as each of us together can make it; the more each of us puts in to our association, the more we will get out of it.
Thank you for your continued support, stay healthy, and I hope we can see each other soon. Oh, and mail a greeting card today to someone on your Christmas card list; it will be so meaningful to them, connect you to them, and well demonstrate the ongoing power of what we do.
George White, GCA President