August 8, 2019 • Sarah Schwartz
State of Paper: A Maker’s Market
Our third of four State of Paper surveys focuses on wholesale stationery vendors
I have been hearing the death knell for stationery as long as I have been covering the category, and I am so happy to share that all the previous reports of the category’s demise appear to be premature at best.
This past May, we surveyed vendors to see what they produce, how they sell it, and what their challenges are. We found a thriving, diverse industry — and better yet, one with a social conscience.
Those who create stationery tend to stick there: 29 percent of respondents have been in business 10 years or more. And a full third have over $500K in sales! Interestingly, 43 percent cited their biggest challenge as marketing.
Our respondents shared what is selling best, and in news that should surprise no one, the top answer was greeting cards. Makers mentioned thank yous as well as love and friendship cards as strong performers. Invitations, notebooks and journals, calendars plus planners and planner inserts are also wholesaling well.
In other good news, respondents mentioned invitations of all niches — wedding suites as well as party and shower invitations — as top sellers. And add-ons are an important ingredient in any retailer’s recipe for success. Build sales with quirky pieces like coasters, travel straws, enamel pins, mugs, and even passive-aggressive parking violations!
Other telling tidbits included that a third of respondents wholesale product online, while three quarters retail it online. And despite all the Instagram hype, 37 percent of our respondents cited social media as having little impact on sales.
While just under half of our respondents — 44 percent — give a portion of profits from any of their offerings to charity, the charity current is shaping the retail landscape regardless. It was heartening to read about which organizations makers are choosing to support. From Pit Bulls to Wounded Warriors, the ACLU to anti-bullying non-profits, babies in NICUs to infertility organizations and cancer patient services, our industry is making the world better, one card at a time. Best of all, three-quarters of respondents plan on increasing these partnerships in the coming year!
This quarter’s results are quite compelling, and we couldn’t fit them all here. Be sure to visit stationerytrends.com/special-reports to see more about trade shows, sales reps and social media promotions.