As I write this, it is only a few days from my fifth anniversary as Executive Director of the Greeting Card Association. And what a crazy and wonderful five years it has been since I began working with the GCA in August of 2015. In order to serve the membership, the GCA’s annual budget and range of programs have increased by more than one third. Virtual programming has become a significant part of our offerings in the past year. A new trade event was developed and launched in 2019, and the organization has grown their consumer and retail following, while also building a strong media presence. Membership has increased by 45%, and event attendance has doubled. And right now, volunteers are making final preparations for the launch of a new membership category that will allow even more industry pros inside the tent. It’s a good time to be part of the GCA.
I’ve always been a fan of greeting cards, and the creative entrepreneurs who bring those special touches to their products. And it has been evident, even in this time of trial for the industry (and for all of us), that the sentiments contained in greeting cards are just as important today as they were five years ago.
Yes, our association was the first organization with a significant tradeshow presence to make the decision to cancel a large in-person trade event this spring. And as the summer draws to a close next month, we will still be in the middle of our fight against COVID-19. As a native Washingtonian, I marvel at what’s happening around us right now, with a seemingly conflicted administration and a worried public. But it’s our industry’s creative minds and perseverance, and even our positive thinking, that will get us through this challenge. As LOUIE Awards Chair Mary Beth Sibert added during our recent LOUIE Awards virtual event, in which hundreds of makers and friends took part (paraphrasing here), “Our industry is full of huggers… and it will be a wonderful day when we can all give each other a hug when this is over.” It will end, make no mistake!
As we continue through this COVID-19 period, greeting cards will continue to help people take a few moments out of their daily grind and just smile. And in doing so, they will remember how important those connections are with family and friends. It’s what we need right now. And they will have you to thank for that.
I hope that the GCA members keep in mind what’s truly special about this business… the vitality, the creativity, the beauty of free enterprise, and our genuine love of cards. It’s why we do what we do every day. And though the faces of the GCA will change in the future, I will continue to be a fan. On behalf of your staff in Washington, I thank you for your support this past five years. And I look forward to brighter days ahead. Thank you.