by John Smyth, A. Smyth Co.
This past May, our community launched Noted: The Greeting Card Expo. The event showcased some home runs and some strikeouts, but the end result was what we originally set out to do: create an event to gather all parts of the greeting card community together, provide new connections, discover new products and resources, and celebrate the diversity of greeting cards and the people behind them. This first event gave us the positive momentum we needed to move to San Francisco for 2020.
The Greenpoint neighborhood and Brooklyn Expo Center were amazing hosts from start to finish! The community feel surrounding the Expo Center, from the always active playground across the street to the incredible pizza shop next door, was contagious. Inside the Expo Center, the promised ease of set up was fulfilled, with most exhibitors setting up in a half a day or less. The result of our planning was a clean-looking exhibit hall that showcased the art of each exhibitors product.
Overall, the Opening Night Reception, the pitch program, donuts, refreshments and educational events were a success. We learned that too much education in the lounge can cause stress.
Just because you build it, not everyone will come! The number one lesson was that we needed to get more greeting card retailers through the doors.
And there were other issues, of course. At the Noted feedback session, like any good community, some were frustrated with the problems that still need to be solved. But we talked through the issues and left ready to make Noted 2020 that much better!
Planning for Noted 2020 has started, and there will be many ways for everyone to get involved. Noted will always be for the community, by the community.
by Sarah Moe
Chair GCA Public Affairs Committee
GCA Expands its Mission to Tackle Tariffs on Cards
In its ongoing effort to advocate for the greeting card industry, the GCA has expanded its efforts to tackle the emerging issue of proposed tariffs on greeting cards imported from China. The ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China has produced an escalating series of tariffs on a wide variety of items and on May 17th the administration proposed a new list of $300 billion worth of products including greeting cards that, if approved, will be subject to a 25% tariff.
The GCA Board responded quickly by voting to task the Postal Affairs Committee with opposing the proposed tariff and renaming it the Public Affairs Committee to reflect the expanded scope of responsibility. The Board also approved the filing of comments to the U.S. Trade Representative to seek an exclusion for greeting cards and to seek an opportunity to testify at public hearings held beginning June 17th.
While other industries have requested exclusions in the previous rounds of tariffs with limited success, we will argue that the proposed tariffs would not only harm the greeting card industry but also pose an additional risk for the financially troubled Postal Service that cannot afford any volume losses. Greeting cards are also a significant contributor to the “mail moment” and fewer cards resulting from higher prices could pose risks to advertising mail that depends on desirable mail content like cards. We will also highlight the fact that the Postal Service recently imposed the largest stamp price increase in its history and adding new tariffs less than 6 months after the rate hike would be a unique and excessive burden on our industry by our government.
The tariff process moved quickly. Requests for exclusions were due on June 10th and comments a week later when the hearings began.
Meanwhile, the committee will continue our efforts to support vitally needed postal stabilization legislation that is expected to move in the House of Representatives in the same time frame. We are also hearing that the Postal Service will once again recommend the elimination of Saturday mail delivery as part of a new 10-year financial plan to be released next month. GCA has worked to make sure any such proposal is dead on arrival and has helped garner 239 cosponsors on a new House resolution calling for the maintenance of the required 6-day delivery schedule. We are ready to engage with lawmakers to ensure that the service standard requirement is included in the annual appropriations legislation.
June is certainly shaping up to be a challenging month for our industry but the GCA Public Affairs Committee is prepared to defend our interests against whatever threats come our way!
by Fern Gimbelman, Designer Greetings
The 30th LOUIE Awards Celebration was a wonderful evening filled with entertainment, live music and fun! The Greeting Card Association (GCA) announced the winners of its 2019 “LOUIE Awards,” the International Greeting Card Awards Competition, at the 30th annual celebration on Sunday, May 19th. The event was held in conjunction with the inaugural Noted: The Greeting Card Expo.
The evening’s highest honors went to: Calypso Cards (Card of the Year, $4 and Below) and UWP Luxe (Card of the Year, Above $4.00). It was also announced that Quilling Cards was honored with the 2019 Judge’s Award for Excellence. And finally, Texas-based KB Paperie was named the 2019 “Rising Star.” A complete list of the 2019 LOUIE Award winners is available now at https://greetingcard.secure-platform.com/a/ The winning cards were also on display at Noted: The Greeting Card Expo through the end of the event.
The 2020 LOUIE Awards Celebration will move to San Francisco, CA, along with Noted: The Greeting Card Expo. The card submission period will open in early September.
“Fern Gimbelman, and the entire Designer Greetings team put on an amazing event. From the “secret entrance” to the Louis Prang song, this event went above and beyond what we had imagined, and I can’t thank them enough! Everything from the fantastic buffet and memorably themed drinks to the top-notch entertainment was thought through and executed perfectly.” says the Membership and Awards Manager, Amanda Bignall.
It was a perfect evening and definitely celebrated the 30th LOUIE Awards in style. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners on your well-deserved LOUIE Award! We’ll see you next year in San Francisco.
by Alan Friedman, Great Arrow Graphics
Chair, Membership Committee
Our membership committee is still on cloud nine after an exciting week in Brooklyn at Noted. It was great to see many friends, old and new and to work together on the launch our first-ever greeting card expo. May just wouldn’t be the same without a stationery show. Thanks to all of you who planned, came and rolled up your sleeves to make it work. It was awesome!
It was also a great year to be giving the membership report to our Board of Directors. We shared product samples from 40 companies who had applied for membership since our last meeting. They were accepted unanimously, bringing our member count to 189 companies – our largest ranks in a decade. And the year is not yet half over.
A hearty welcome to those joining us in May. We look forward to all that we can accomplish together:
Regular Members:90210 Exotics,A Little Humerus,Abigail Jayne Design, Bergen Place Press, Better Friend Cards LLC, CharmCat Studio, Dotplaid,Encourage Someone Today, Frankie & Claude,From: Auntie,Good Postage,Graphic Anthology, Huckleberry Moose, Just My Type Greetings, Kitty Meow Boutique,Kweer Cards,Lake Erie Design Co., Lionheart Prints,Near Modern Disaster,Next Chapter Studio,Paper Mummy Co,Patent Press Greeting Cards, Pinecone Design LTD, Sarah Angst Art, SoundSentiments, Stonehouse Collection, Tallulah Madwell,The Card Bureau,The Good Twin,The Penny Paper Co.,Theia Chandelier Cards, Viva Greetings LLC,wthlve.
Regular Artist Members: Armstrong Doodles, Mike Miranda,Surprize Enterprize Inc.
International Members: Petal and Pins,Santoro LTD.,Wild Grey Fox,Wonder di Marini Cristian.
Thinking of You Week
Nicky Burton, Calypso and Dave Phipps, Avanti Press
Thinking of You Week 2019 was officially launched at *Noted, where posters and postcards promoting the event were distributed to retailers and publishers.
Postcards giving information about the campaign and suggestions as to how publishers and retailers can get involved are available to publishers at no cost. We are asking publishers to send them out with orders over the summer to spread the word to retailers. If you would like some, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your UPS or Fedex shipper number that we can use to ship them to you, and tell us how many you would like. We have lots! Our campaign will once again be supported by a USPS postmark “Thinking of You. Mail a Smile” during the whole month of September. Last year this postmark reached HALF A BILLION households!
We also had a Thinking of You Week booth at BookCon June 1 and 2, the BookExpo event that is open to the general public, where consumers were able to select a card kindly donated by GCA members, write it and mail it there and then!
This event was a huge success! Over the two days hundreds of attendees flooded the booth, writing cards to be mailed all over America (and beyond). The concept of Thinking of You Week was met with lots of enthusiasm as people took the time to look through well over a thousand donated cards to find the perfect one to send out and connect with their loved ones. Artist Elizabeth Silver was on hand to hand letter and decorate envelopes with bright, cheerful illustrations to celebrate the event.
We used all 900 stamps generously donated by the GCA and after that we still had a steady stream of people visiting the booth and writing cards to mail themselves – some even brought their own stamps!
The BookCon audience and the TOYW concept was the perfect combination. We could not have felt more welcomed by the staff and attendees, and were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to come to the booth and mail a card. Now hundreds of people will receive an unexpected card in the mail that will brighten their day—all thanks to Thinking of You Week at BookCon!
Publishers and retailers; you could build on this initiative and hold your own similar event on a smaller scale. Many publishers are able to donate a small or large quantity of cards – think about returns and overstock. A small number of posters promoting the event are also available for window displays. Publishers might offer a promotion that would include a poster to a retailer in return for a commitment to hold an event.
This is a great opportunity to get involved in your local community and raise the profile of sending greeting cards! For more information please see www.thinkingofyouweekusa.com.
If you are interested in joining a committee, contact GCA Executive Director Peter Doherty.