If anyone ever doubted that Friday the 13th is a real phenomenon, look no further than March 13, 2020. Not only were media reports full of the cancellation of March Madness, my very favorite time of year, but we in the GCA leadership also had to make the incredibly hard decision to cancel the Greeting Card Association’s *Noted 2020 in San Francisco.
The Noted cancellation decision itself was not difficult—the world is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and the health of all members of the greeting card community is of utmost importance. We therefore believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize the health and well-being of our members and partners, while also playing a constructive role in supporting our local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus.
So the decision itself was not difficult. What made it so hard was that dozens of volunteers from our industry—including not only makers but also retailers, suppliers, and members of the media—had dedicated thousands of hours of their time to organizing what would have been a terrific event where our greeting card community could have gathered to connect and learn, and where each maker could have personally shown the world their amazing product. The decision to cancel was unanimous, but it was a difficult Friday the 13th.
Despite the cancellation of the Noted event in San Francisco, Noted activities are continuing, including the Noted @ *Noted best new product awards, judged by an amazing panel of retailers, sales reps, and the inimitable Sarah Schwartz, and a virtual Pitch Program, matching selected Noted exhibitors with independent and key retailers for an intimate five minute line pitch. The LOUIE Awards, celebrating design excellence in our industry for the 31st year, will certainly remain a highlight of the summer, though some elements of the LOUIE plan are changing. Stay tuned…
As we work through the enormous effects of COVID-19 on our industry, our nation’s health and economy, and indeed the world, I encourage those of us who love our industry to remind everyone that greeting cards can provide the connection that bridges the social distancing this awful disease is necessitating. Social distancing, which has to be the early favorite for 2020’s “term of the year”, by definition creates human isolation, which can lead to loneliness and depression. While I hope a cure to COVID-19 is available soon after this column is published, I already know the best cure to loneliness, and that is through a personal greeting card, unexpectedly received from a friend of family member.
I invite each of you to be part of the cure to social distancing: write and mail a greeting card. Don’t wait for Friday, November 13; do it today!
George White, GCA President