April 13, 2020 • Sarah Schwartz
Reach Out & Indirectly Touch Someone
So, a lot has happened since I turned in my original spring editor’s letter in early March. It focused on how Papyrus shutting its doors played into the ongoing media narrative about the retail apocalypse, and how garnering clicks can stand in the way of reporting more nuanced truths. I think my conclusions still stand: Namely, that the card buyer demographic is shifting from baby boomer to millennial, and the younger generation responds less to a traditional card shop environment and more to that of a curated card and gift shop. Interestingly, Paper Source did acquire 30 Papyrus stores a few weeks after the big announcement, news that was barely reported.
While the industry was decrying the negative media treatment, I advised, “Don’t worry, everyone will forget when the next big story shows up.” Unfortunately, it did, and coronavirus drastically changed everything about American life. With schools closed, public gatherings canceled and milestone events postponed indefinitely, chaos feels like the order of the day.
Meanwhile, as we go to press, *Noted has been canceled and BookExpo postponed, but plans are underway for amended presentations of both the LOUIE and Noted @ *Noted Awards regardless. Good Juju Ink was planning on exhibiting at *Noted, and when I reached out to co-founder Ryan Kissick for a comment on how he appreciated the cancellation being announced early on, I got a lot more than I bargained for, and I’m so happy to share it with you.
Because there are “no playbooks for navigating a global pandemic,” Ryan has compiled a Google doc outlining resources for small business owners. Whether you are trying to access information on CARES Act loans or legal resources, it is invaluable to retailers and makers alike. If you are reading this in print, access our digital issue to click through the link. Please keep checking back as the document is updated frequently!
I ended that first letter citing an industry need to amplify the value that arises from unplugging and connecting with a loved one via snail mail. This value will only increase as shelter in place continues day after isolated day. It brings to mind the AT&T “Reach Out and Touch Someone” ads of the 1980s. Whether you grew up with them or not, check them out on YouTube.
AT&T was selling the power of connection (exactly what we sell) through very personal anecdotes. So we see the college student checking in with his family, knowing (and missing) everyone’s habits, or a mom getting a pep talk from her daughter before a big job interview. AT&T humanized and personalized an everyday item to show how it made both our inner lives and our ties with loved ones so much richer — and now more than ever, we all need to push this idea! Never has a missive from a loved one meant more or been more appreciated.
Until next issue,