December 2019

Despite the popular refrain that “trade show traffic is down,” greeting card publishers and retailers alike consistently report that trade shows remain a leading way—if not THE leading way—to establish new partnerships.

For retailers, trade shows provide a way to see lots of new lines all in one place, as well as new designs from current suppliers.  For publishers, trade shows provide a way to get their lines in front of hundreds or thousands of potential new retailer customers—and not just stationery stores, but the many other types of retailers who can benefit from selling cards, like book stores, grocery stores, and accessory shops.  Most importantly, trade shows provide an opportunity for retailers and publishers to connect—to talk to each other about how they can best work together.

The GCA’s research shows that most retailers attend one or two shows a year, and the shows they attend are almost always within 500 miles of their store location.  In order to best serve our members, and get greeting cards in front of as many retailers as possible, the GCA therefore cannot support just one show in one location; rather, we need to develop more opportunities to bring publishers and retailers together all over the country.

That is why Noted: The Greeting Card Expo, our signature event that brings together all parts of our wonderful community once a year to further mutual interests, is changing locations every year—moving from Brooklyn in 2019 to San Francisco in 2020, and to a yet-to-be-determined location in the Midwest in 2021.  That is also why the GCA is launching partnerships in 2020 with the Dallas Market Center and Reed Exhibitions to offer our GCA Village at the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market in January and at Unbound, the “side lines” show during Book Expo in New York City in May.

Through this innovative program, GCA members can exhibit at one or both of these powerful shows in the GCA Village booth, along with fellow GCA publisher members, at a fraction of a full booth price and in a prominent, well-publicized location.  We tested this concept at NY Now and Unbound last year, and the efforts were a resounding success, enabling publishers of all sizes to gain the exposure and business from these shows as part of the greeting card community.  We hope even more members will take advantage of the GCA Village in Dallas and Unbound in 2020.

Of course, I cannot close a review of the importance of shows without urging support for Noted, which brings the greeting card community together and gives attendees the opportunity to connect, discover new products, and celebrate not just greeting cards, but all the great people behind them.  Space for Noted 2020 (May 1-3 in San Francisco) is filling up quickly, and only publishers who commit to exhibiting by January 31st can apply to participate in our Pitch Program, which was the most popular aspect of the inaugural Noted in Brooklyn.

Two selected groups of retailers will act as Pitch Receivers:  buyers from Paper Source, Papyrus, and Paper E Clips in one group and Dan Collier of the Daniel Richards Group, Barbara Mooney of Daisy’s, and two other independents in the second group.  We will randomly select 18 exhibitors—nine for each group—who will each have the opportunity to make a five minute pitch in their own exhibit space about their line to one of the groups.  Again, publishers must register to exhibit by January 31st to be able to apply to participate.

I want to close by recounting the inspiring conversation I just had with Barbara from Daisy’s, which has been a leading retailer of cards and stationery in Alameda (a ferry ride from San Francisco!) for more than 15 years.  She told me that she loved the experience of Noted in Brooklyn, and in particular the time she was able to spend with so many unique makers.  She told me she found more than a half dozen new lines for her store during the event, one of which she has already reordered SIX times!  I wish she could share that store with every retailer looking to add cards or expand and diversify their current card offering; consider this column a start of that effort!

I hope to see all of our members at Noted 2020 in May—and many of you at the Dallas and Unbound markets as well.  Happy Holidays!

Kind Regards,

George White, GCA President