Editor's Letters Features

April 24, 2023 • Sarah Schwartz
A letter from the editor: Anything goes

My motto for 2023 is “Ditch the Rules.” For somehow, somewhere along the line, the stationery game completely changed — and the most we can hope for is that hard work, dedicated focus and logical smarts will pay off in the end.

Take trade shows. At one time, attending them was mandatory — but then, coronavirus ascended. Buying moved onto various platforms, and as trade shows reappeared, the platforms still cast a long shadow.

Retailers had gotten used to ordering through them, and many now visit booths, but place orders in their hotel rooms that night. Thus, the show floor and what occurs there has transformed. Meanwhile, retailers
who opened their doors while shows were on hiatus are currently integrating “old-fashioned” trade shows into their buying patterns.

It also wasn’t too long ago that if you worked in stationery, attending the National Stationery Show was mandatory. *Noted has sprung up as the spring stationery buying event, and this year’s is completely sold out as of press time — testament to the idea that stationery needs an in-person event during that specific time of year.

Yet the fact that the Greeting Card Association has begun creating *Noted pop-ups at other markets speaks to the idea that there is no longer any one central, can’t-miss greeting card event. Instead, there are many thriving smaller events across the country that are now dotted across calendar months, too.

This complicated situation evolved relatively quickly, so the dust is definitely still settling. While an undefined present can feel scary, it also means that now is an ideal time to take a risk or two. During times of social upheaval, new ideas and approaches tend to be welcomed, or at least heard.

A fragmented market means a maker or retailer can choose her audience and construct it as she sees fit. As the old ways tumble down, we have the exciting opportunity to rebuild as we like. And that, my friends, is a mighty power, one I hope you witness for yourself in these pages — and that inspires you in your own personal ditching of the rules. Therefore, for this, our Trends Issue, disruption is the biggest trend to watch.

Until next issue,

Sarah Schwartz signature

Featured image courtesy of Simone Jowell Photography

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